Light Screamer are from Örebro, Sweden and formed in 2011, the line-up consisting of Ida Andersson-Norrie, Jens Hellman and until recently Peter Lindström who has since been replaced by Johan Kekki. Award-winning Austin artist, Win Wallace had done the artwork for Switch and Gauss and is back again with his darkly surreal take on the album title.
Light Screamer clearly take their cues from 80s post-punk, as opening number Close with its Peter Hook style bass and Siouxsie Sioux inspired vocal style attested to. The track sounded like an outtake from The Banshees The Scream record, albeit an excellent one. Reaper had a much more contemporary feel and at the risk of insulting the band, reminded me a little of Bloc Party with the shimmering anthemic choruses. Even with a title as grim as Reaper (pun intended), the track still sounded relatively upbeat with a pop like sensibility. If this doesn’t feature on 6 Music, then I’ll be amazed.
The levity was soon short lived with the advent of the track Stop, a heavier Scratch Acid noise-rock number. When I was in my early 20s a friend of mine introduced me to riot girl punkers Sleater-Kinney and Hunt reminded me of that band’s aesthetic combined with Fugazi’s more downbeat and restrained moments. The track threatened to explode at any moment, but the band did an excellent job of reigning in that urge, rendering it far more menacing and with vocals positively snarled by Ida.
Having mentioned Scratch Acid earlier, Brett Bradford of that band contributed some excellent guitar work to Dawn. This was an oddly disjointed number, there were a lot more twists and turns than on any of the tunes we had heard so far and offered up some nice variety. Higher was the longest track on the record and the music adopted a death-rock feel with some impassioned Patti Smith vocals. In fact, I was reminded of Smith’s song Horses, there was a chaotic beauty to it, the music simultaneously disturbing yet blissful. Sky started with a My Sharona-esque drumbeat with some amazing guitar playing that recalled the late, great John McGeoch of Magazine. As with McGeoch, the playing was not in the least bit flashy or guitar hero orientated, but controlled and precise, even the solo was understated.
This was an album brimming with passion and if the spirit of Riot Girl melded with dark post-punk and uncompromising 80s noise-rock ticks your boxes then look no further…
Fear made an immediate impact, possibly one of the more aggressive tracks on the album, with some faster drumming. Light Screamer cleverly alternated this with quieter, more restrained passages which helped highlight the tracks power even further. The Pixies pretty much invented the quiet-loud dynamic and Light Screamer showed themselves to be students of this aesthetic, not slavish followers as they bring their own unique flavour to the proceedings.
Penultimate track Ground demonstrated a united band, and as with Sky, each member played to their strengths with no showboating. Light Screamer are not the sort of band to indulge in 10-minute drum solos or guitars being played with violin bows. This is Punk Rock 101 before the crass commercialism of the 1990s hit. Final track Walk was the second longest on the album and featured a desperate and disturbing vocal performance. The track was awash with feedback and noise, ala Sonic Youth at their darkest in the vein of Death Valley ’69.
When the likes of Paul Leary and Brett Bradford are singing your praises then clearly you’re doing something right. This was an album brimming with passion and if the spirit of Riot Girl melded with dark post-punk and uncompromising 80s noise-rock ticks your boxes then look no further.
Scribed by: Reza Mills