- Luminous Crush, Luminous Inc.
Claiming that your band plays "original bluegrass outlaw country post-punk psychedelic fusion indie dream pop searing rock metal" is a bold move. Pronouncing that your new album "is about the hottest shit you'll hear from anywhere," as Luminous Crush's Ben Campbell said in a recent email, is another big swing.
Though the Jamaica, Vt., "purveyors of dream-pop" may not tick all of the genre boxes set up in the aforementioned string of descriptors found on their Bandcamp page, Luminous Crush certainly strive to on their new album, Luminous Inc. And this shit is indeed, as Campbell boasted, hot.
As practically every band has learned to do in the pandemic era, Luminous Crush recorded Luminous Inc. remotely. Co-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Laura Molinelli, polymath Alex Reiser and creative mastermind Campbell contributed from their respective homes around the state. (Ditto Brian Nelson, who drums on "Sacred Boy.")
The 15-track record makes a hard left turn from the acoustic country heard on the band's 2019 album, Live From Lonely Highway Studio. Yet it blazes past the folksy indie-pop of the band's 2016 debut, Lumina, primarily into lacquered hyper-pop. If Luminous Crush are a pendulum, their next release should be a gritty-AF roots album.
Luminous Inc. begins with a feeling of awakening. Ironically titled, verbally restrained opener "All the Words and More" does this through a heavy emphasis on vibe. Dribbling out over a combination of synths and acoustic guitar, Campbell's vocals are maximally auto-tuned, a new flavor for the band. Lumina's essence is still there. But it quickly morphs, making space for the stylistic turns ahead. It's a bit like how a dream evaporates as the mind recalibrates for waking life when the morning alarm sounds.
Molinelli fronts the next track, "Radio Kills (Zombies)," its punchy beats interlaced with prickly guitar riffs. The subsequent cut, "Can I Be," is pure decadence, conjured by synth saxophone that melts over a sea of delayed and reverbed instrumentation.
Further along, "Major Nightmare" and "Minor Nightmare" in sequence play like fun-house mirror reflections of each other. The first, a Southern-rock slow burn gone electro, centers its power on splayed harmonies and a searing guitar solo. The second is almost like a remix, a spastic, minor-key escapade that adds in hyper beats and grander guitars.
"Piper Song," written for Molinelli's dog, is a joyful, spun-sugar paean. Wholly sincere but not cloying, she sings, "She belongs to me / But she's still free / Because our intentions are true." Animal love is among the purest, whether coming from pet to master or vice versa, and Molinelli captures it perfectly.
Luminous Crush make a strong team, even when separated by circumstance. Bold, inventive and engaging, Luminous Inc. adds some much-needed brightness to an otherwise dreary time of year.
Luminous Inc. is available at luminouscrush.bandcamp.com.