Waikato based folk-duo Looking For Alaska have released their sophomore album ‘Light and Shadow.’
‘Light and Shadow’ is the follow up to their 2016 self-titled debut album and comes after the release of two singles and a tour which covered New Zealand, Australia, and Europe. Looking For Alaska has matured as a band over the past four years which shows on ‘Light and Shadow.’
The album starts off with “When I’m Alone” which is a powerful acapella track that sets the tone of the album perfectly. Contrasted to their debut album which was bouncy folk-pop songs, ‘Light and Shadow’ is dark, gritty, and an overall more emotional record. Looking for Alaska has strong vocal hooks and melodies. Amy Maynard has a fantastic voice which lends itself well to the darker, more tormented lyrical themes. ‘Where Have You Gone’ has an incredibly catchy vocal melody.
‘Fall Into You’ is a lovesick pop song that again highlights the band’s ability to write catchy hooks. ‘Let You Go’ is a powerful song that sees the band truly breaking free from its folk roots. ‘Let You Go’ features keyboards building a powerful ambience that is overlapped with reverb-soaked guitar solos.
‘Hina Atarau’ is the first song that the band has done completely in Te Reo Maori. Lyrically Amy grapples with past generational trauma and how to resolve this mamāe (hurt) in the present. ‘Hina Atarau’ is done exceptionally well that showcases how Te Reo can lend itself beautifully to contemporary music. ‘Hina Atarau’ is one of the stand out tracks of the album.
‘Home’ incorporates and builds upon the sound from the band’s first album. The track is an acoustic guitar-driven song with a banjo and violin melody thrown into the instrumental mix. However, ‘Home’ uses these elements in a darker tone as opposed to the upbeat sound of their first album. Lyrically, the song once again is about relationship struggles and has an overall sense of longing that shines through. Amy Manard’s vocal performance throughout the album helps to give it the emotional sincerity that makes ‘Light and Shadow’ such an engaging record. ‘Whole Again’ sees Aaron Gott stepping in as lead vocalist with Maynard picking up vocal harmonies in the chorus. Looking For Alaska has always been able to write captivating vocal melodies and the blending of voices works exceptionally well here.
‘Calling Out’ sees the band use electric guitars as the main instrument. The track is one of the standouts from the second half of the album. The track has a catchy drum beat with a swing feel to it. ‘Calling Out’ is an inherently catchy song that once again sees Maynard deliver an outstanding vocal performance.
‘Light and Shadow’ see Looking For Alaska stepping into a new musical direction. Newly engaged Amy Maynard and Aaron Gott showcase a musical maturity in their songwriting. Each song feels more conceptualized than their previous efforts. The change in tone won’t alienate their audience, there is a lot to love here for fans of Looking For Alaska but in branching out and expanding upon their sound the group has a new appeal that isn’t strictly for fans of folk music. There is a lot to love here for fans of music.
You can listen to the album here.