Earlier this year, Opus marked its fifteenth anniversary as a blog. During that decade-and-a-half, many of the bands that I’ve written about have faded away into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Indeed, that’s probably true for a significant majority of the bands I’ve reviewed, covered, and interviewed. As such, it’s always a pleasant surprise when one of them re-emerges with new music. And in this case, there are two.
The first band is Luxury. I still remember the first time I heard their Tooth & Nail debut, 1995’s Amazing & Thank You — I couldn’t believe Christians were making music quite like that. The band released a handful of albums (and its members have released numerous side projects, including All Things Bright And Beautiful and They Sang As They Slew). But the last proper Luxury album was 2005’s Health and Sport. Following that record, the band went their separate ways. (Trivia: Three of the band’s members, including lead singer Lee Bozeman, eventually became Orthodox priests.)
But last year, Luxury announced a Kickstarter campaign to record their fifth album, titled Trophies. The first Trophies single — “Parallel Love” — was released a few weeks back, and it’s a killer.
I daresay that “Parallel Love” might be my new favorite Luxury track. Bozeman’s voice has gained a bit of grit in the last eight years, grit that tempers his Morrissey-esque emoting, and musically, the song is just one great soaring riff after another. No release date for Trophies has been set, but if “Parallel Love” is any indication, it’s going to be something special.
The second band is Writ on Water. Their 1992 release on Blonde Vinyl, titled Sylph, was an eye-opening listen; its 4AD and Projekt-esque atmospherics made it something rather unique in the annals of Christian music. Their last album was 2008’s A Wingless King, another fine release. And now, the band has finally released The Greyest Day, their first new album in 6 years… sort of.
The Greyest Day was originally intended to be the follow-up to Sylph, but after Blonde Vinyl folded, the initial recordings ended up in limbo. The band released the album’s original session recordings online in 1999, but The Greyest Day is the official release of these songs — and it only took two decades to complete.
I’ve been listening to a pre-release copy of the album for a week now, and it’s unmistakably Writ on Water. By that I mean the band has clearly found a dark groove that works for them, and while they rarely deviate from it, that’s not a bad thing. From the poetic lyrics to Jeff MacKey’s baritone, from the driving, Cure-ish basslines to the shimmering guitar atmospherics, Writ on Water continues to sound like a band out of time — a band that would feel more at home in the heady days of 4AD, Hyperium, and even Factory.
It may not be groundbreaking, but on tracks like “To a Castle Is Fallen,” “Piano,” the epic “Held Close, Beneath the Surface,” and “Points on a Line” (which sounds like Lycia covering a Motorcycle-era Daniel Amos b‑side), it’s definitely beguiling.