IAMX
Alive In New Light
Caroline/Universal
★★★

People deal with life in different capacities. I just wrote about how Soft Moon’s Criminals sonically and lyrically portrays self-reflection as a deviant and deprecating way. We all have individual ways of making it through. Chris Corner expresses IAMX’s latest album in a different light.

Alive In New Light is not an easy listen. You might find an element of this album that strikes a personal chord or you may shudder at Chris Corner’s lyrical experience, finding his sofa memoir of Dorian grays a bit too stark. Either way, this is an album you can feel every passionate drop of sweat being poured into.

Corner was deeply depressed. Out of this depression came defiance. In that defiance birthed this album. And this album is his Ovid.

“Stardust” is a dynamic opener that sets a barren tone and exposes a tortured soul. Set to a daunting cinematic backdrop, it is uncomfortable to the listener if you treat the listener as voyeur. Sometimes the opening of the dark recesses of human emotion is more stark than an admittance of a crime. Lucky for us this is not an emotional low nor do we experience that level of Corner’s psyche. Yet, it is frightening to know there is that low lurking from the depths. What we experience is a late ‘80s Catholic guilt that Depeche Mode merchandised on and, more importantly, defiance.

But this album is a ladder, and he climbs it on the title track. More accessible than most of the songs on this album, this accessibility serves to be unpredictable in its own way. It throws us off guard when we are mining the dark recesses of his mind. He sings with strength and his voice echoes out into the world. When you put yourself in the middle of the Californian desert and only have to be accountable to natural law, this is what happens.

IAMX – Alive in New Light

And as easy as walking into the light, Corner faces the shadows. “I’m sinking with America. Smothered by my conscious and fear.” A 3 a.m. confessional, the transparency is blinding. And if the music on “Break The Chain” is our surroundings, this is one of the more distinct electronic songs I have heard. To dance or sympathize, that is the question.

When you get to “Body Politic,” it’s a Thomas Dolby dancefest under neon-tinged electro-pulses. Corner’s intent does not fulfill a need to rehash the ‘80s. This song pushes electronic music forward. Which in turn, says something for Dolby’s work, not that there is any correlation beyond coincidence.

“Stalker” is breathtaking in a cinematic way. Not Corner’s lyrical best but the music is fascinating on so many levels that your mind breathes imagination. However, that seems to be the cliff that we jump off of because “Mile Deep Hollow” and “The Power and the Glory” revert back to self-reflection. These songs are more apparent than when we set out on this journey. Here we get a sense of realization as to where Corners is mentally. It may not be a Disney ending, but he clearly draws the line in the sand and shows a sense of resilience, something we feel throughout Alive In New Light.

Categories: Reviews

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