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‘Dark Matter’ defies categorization

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Les Friction’s “Dark Matter” is everything.

It is not quite pop or rock or orchestral. They sing about everyday love and the demise of Earth. No song quite mimics the other. No single adjective–epic, emotional, cinematic–quite fits this group, because this group and their selections have indescribable variety. Even each song could fit into multiple genres and styles. 

For the most part, the vocals are incredible and diverse. Along with guest artists Emily Valentine and Lara Fabian, lead singer Paint guides listeners through the second installment of a futuristic dystopian plotline, focusing on one family affected by widespread disaster. Although the songs at first may sound simple, if one knows the album’s plot, each track has plenty of meaning to delve into. “Make Believe,” which features peppy guitar and a solid beat fit for dancing, actually involves choosing ignorance in hope of manufacturing happiness. Paint shows off his impressive vocal variety, and his ability to communicate so many emotions purely through tone of voice is incredible.

Unfortunately, those in search of instrumental tracks paralleling their previous album, “Les Friction,” will leave empty-handed. This album features no instrumental tracks, mostly because the newer tracks cannot stand without the vocals. The simpler accompaniments are disappointing, but still enhance the vocals, which make for strong connections but less complex tracks.

The overall album has a wide variety of genres and sounds, as though it was made by several bands, not one.”

— Erin Sheffield

What is intriguing about this album is the great variety of tones for each song. “You Always Knew” features the lyrics and tone of a ballad with minimal instrumentation, whereas “Dark Matter” holds tons of instruments, a multitude of voices and effects layered into each component. Some songs are very like each other, but the overall album has a wide variety of genres and sounds, as though it was made by several bands, not one.

Old fans of the group may be disappointed to find few original tracks. The album features some old singles Les Friction released, from “Who Will Save You Now,” released in 2012, to “Your World Will Fail,” released earlier this year. For fans who had already purchased these singles, the repeated tracks are disappointing. A well-performed cover of “Kashmir” by Led Zepplin is also included, which is surprising from a band which has never released covers before.

Overall, Les Friction has continued its streak of variety. Although the album is very different in some ways from their last, the changes are welcome. The varied instrumentation woven with rich, dark vocals create a beautiful world outside our own with its own conflicts and characters and relationships. Once again, Les Friction defies categorization–the band is a little of everything, and “Dark Matter” has something for every listener.

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‘Dark Matter’ defies categorization