Home Music Lost Horizons: In Quiet Moments (Pt. 2)

Lost Horizons: In Quiet Moments (Pt. 2)

The past year has been one of isolation and forced introspection. Tapping that somber mood, Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde and Dif Juz drummer Richard Thomas, who together form dream pop duo Lost Horizons, have found beauty in the quiet moments of reflection that now dominate our lives. The title of the group’s second album In Quiet Moments was born out of this beauty, a lyric from soul singer Ural Thomas that jumped out at Raymonde among contributions from the record’s 16 collaborators. Such an abundance of artistic interaction hits home now more than ever during a global hunger for social interaction, and this is the melancholic bliss felt throughout the album, released in two parts between December and February.

Unfortunately, the record’s second part, much like its first, only occasionally lives up to its resonant concept. The title track is perhaps the strongest realization of this potential, with Ural Thomas’ gorgeous vocals shining over forlorn piano chords and hopeful electric guitar flares. The chorus blossoms with angelic backing vocals and Richard Thomas’ masterful drumming, and a blissful outro features captivating spoken word from Ural and a warm instrumental jam that elevates the track to a dreamy masterpiece.

Later, “Blue Soul” dips further into melancholy and isolation as singer Laura Groves laments “You’re breaking up/ In the blue light of the screen/ I can’t find the energy.” The chord progressions here take increasingly dark turns reminiscent of Raymonde’s dream pop contemporaries Slowdive, but Groves’ sweet voice pulls the song out of its dark depths with each harmonized chorus, building to an emotional triumphant climax as she sings the word “sublime.” Raymonde and Thomas’ brooding but sparse instrumental gives Groves space to bring the song to devastating lows and cathartic highs, and she takes full advantage.

As in the first half of In Quiet Moments, the record’s second part struggles to leave a mark between its highlights, suffering from a lack of direction or poor production—though rarely at once. “Circle” is an example of the former. C Duncan’s harmonies are hypnotizing at first, but there’s so little variation in his vocals that it’s easy to let them drift into the background. Still, they’re mixed as well as they could be with the song’s glistening guitar lines. Raymonde and Thomas’ songwriting is most to blame here, as the track’s relentless drumbeat and hardly distinguishable choruses offer little dynamics for Duncan to work with.

“Marie” suffers from the inverse issue, as Marissa Nadler’s longing choruses of “Marie, Marie, Marie” are drowned by sweeping cymbals. There’s interesting stuff happening with the keys and guitars trading descending melodies of desperation as well, but these too are lost in the murky production. Along with In Quiet Moments’ earlier Porridge Radio feature, this is the record’s most wasted opportunity: Marissa Nadler finds her power in the raw intimacy of her broken singing, her voice speaking directly to us over a finger picked guitar and subtle strings as on her brilliant 2018 record For My Crimes. Such resonance is lost in the mix here.

In Quiet Moments closes with a stunning ballad in “This Is the Weather.” A welcome change in instrumentation, the track nonetheless bears the same heavy melancholy that defines Lost Horizons’ second album, as The Innocence Mission’s Karen Peris’ crisp vocals are haunting in their raw, innocent heartbreak. Tearful strings accompany a simple piano arpeggio and evoke Sigur Rós’ more orchestral work as the album ends in beautiful sorrow.

Raymonde and Thomas would do well to experiment more with different sounds as on this last track, but the synth outro of “Unraveling in Slow Motion” and the distortion in the final seconds of “Heart Of A Hummingbird” are the only other instances of risk taking on In Quiet Moments’ second half. All in all, the duo nails the tone of introspective melancholy, and their features occasionally elevate the moody instrumentals. But hit-or-miss production and an overall lack of direction leaves us with just a few memorable songs. Still, combine these with the first half’s highlights and you could do far worse for a dream pop double album.

Summary
They nail the tone of introspective melancholy, and features occasionally elevate the moody instrumentals, but a lack of direction leaves us with just a few memorable songs.
55 %
Directionless melancholy
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