Sound — 10
There was a lot of hype (there still is) surrounding Illuminate and I think Lydia deserves this considering that they are one of the most underrated bands out there today (although their continually growing popularity proves otherwise). I have been personally waiting two years for this release and I must say that the album doesn't disappoint; however, in my eyes, it will never match the perfection that This December; It's One More and I'm Free (Lydia's debut album) had. Lydia has definitely matured since the release of their debut album; however, Illuminate still possesses that unique tapestry; the individual characteristics (lets say fabric to complete the analogy) that define what Lydia is and what their fans love the most about themthe dynamic male and female vocals, the melodic keys/guitar leads and riffs, the solid drumming that is accompanied by perfectly executed bass lines, and the trademark layering that made This December; It's One More and I'm Free such a beautifully written album. Along with the more mature sound, Mindy's (keys/vox) female vocals have taken a more prominent role in the new album; harmonizing entire sections of the album instead of being used as brief female vocals splits that were characteristic of the last album. Intriguing as this may have been, I must admit that I preferred the (80-20) male-female vocals spilt that was characteristic of their previous release. It was a lot cooler hearing Maria's (Lydia's former female vox/keys) separate vocal parts on the last album and I wish that they kept that same format because Mindy has an incredible voice and I wish that they would have utilized it like they did with Maria's vocals or as they did with Mindy's vocals on the single Your Taste is My Attention. With the exception of Now the One You Once Loved Is Now Leaving and certain parts of a handful of songs, Mindy's vocals served as the background, which is a waste of great talent because her vocal solos in Now the One You Once Loved Is Now Leaving were some of highlights of the CD and it was really reminiscent of the sound that Lydia had on their last album. Another thing that was lacking in this album was the transitions that Lydia had on their last album. What impressed me the most about the previous album was Lydia's ability to transform a nice slow tempo song into a song filled with a lot of energy and a lot emotionwhen I say these things, I mean the ability to transform a nice slow song in the beginning to a song laden with heavy hitting guitars and dynamic drumming back to a slow song. Like a great book, Lydia's previous CD was filled with songs that started off either slowly or heavily and then transcended to a slower/more peaceful point or a point of climax with incredibly genius chords/bass lines and drumming that encompasses what we all think of when we think of the word energetic. Most of the songs on this album seemed to stay at the same tempo and I didn't really like it that much because I really enjoyed the musical shifts because it breaks the monotony of listening to the same CD over and it really energizes you. In addition, I was a little disappointed due to the lack of audible bass lines on this albumsometimes the layers upon layers of effects/instruments/vocals that they used in this album really masked the bass on this album and that's one of my favorite parts so that was something that I wished I heard more of. In the midst of these little problems, the overall sound itself is still what you get when you think of Lydia, but now it's a little more mature, a little more concise (most of the songs range from 3-4 minutes instead of 4-6 minutes), and more oriented around the vocals of Leighton.
Lyrics — 10
This is probably the hardest part to judge when writing a review because of it's nature. As Leighton (lead vocals/guitar) says: The lyrics mean what ever you want (the fan/listener) them to mean In essence, judging the lyrics is subjective; thus, I do not have much to say about the lyrics on this album because whatever I may have interpreted the lyrics to be may be totally different when someone else listens to the album. All I can say about the lyrics on this CD is that it is definitely less catchy when compared to some of the other songs that there were on This December. The only problem that I had while listening to the lyrics on this album was the fact that Lydia uses a lot of effects (not including the effects on the guitar, and on certain vocal sections) and it sometimes deterred me from deciphering what the songs were about because I was trying to catch that cool guitar solo or that cool reverb effect. All in all, the lyrics are still beautifully written and I wish that they would have included the lyrics like they did on the last album, but they didn't so that's one thing you are going to have to compromise with. I don't know how much Mindy's presence/Loren's (former drummer) departure had on the lyrics (because Lydia writes the music first then adds the lyrics over them) but I must say that the lyrics were still pretty dope. I wished they would have given Mindy more vocals solos as they did with Maria on the last album. The guy from Copeland also sings a short line for the song Hospital which was really cool. The biggest change for me on this album was not the lyrics/the music itself but Leighton's singing style. Leighton has a really nice and powerful voice, but on this album he tended to sing a lot softer and that was kind of weird because Mindy also sang with a very soft voice; maybe to compliment Mindy's singing style? All in the all, the lyrics on this album are good like the last album, but Leighton's new singing style something I going to have to get adjusted to because I really loved the way that he used to sing. Besides for that one chick from the Stiletto Formal, Mindy is the only chick that could ever replace Maria or in any case, do a better job than what Maria did on This December so I thought that Mindy did an excellent job of preserving the females vocals in this new album.
Overall Impression — 10
As usual, I would prefer not to compare Lydia to any other band, but if you're dying to know, I would classify them as an eclectic mixture of Jimmy Eat World, Waking Ashland, and Led Zeppelin (I am joking.) I would personally compare Lydia to Lydia because of the uniqueness that I find in their creativity, the fact that they are all stellar musicians, and the energy that band has. There are no great song on this album, this entire album is greatA few of the songs that have struck with awe are: Hospital; The One That You Once Loved Is Leaving, and Stay Awake. There are no instrumental track on this album which is a bummer but a lot of the songs give me that Her and Haley/ Fools and Luxury/ When the Ghost Make Love Again vibe so that was really nice. The guitar riffs on this album are also pretty amazing and Steve has about 5 or 6 guitar solos on this CD which I must add were all pretty dope. I wish Loren didn't leave, but Craig does a good job on the drums and the album actually comes in a jewel case this timeno more cardboard box. Is this the greatest album of 2008, I think so, but you're going to have to listen to it for yourself to prove me wrong.