Arizona darkwavers Lycia have long cultivated an atmosphere of overwhelming dirge throughout their two-decade career, culminating in classics such as Cold and Estrella. The reverb-drenched melancholia assembled by Mike VanPortfleet and Tara Vanflower recalls classic ethereal and ambient touches while crushing them simultaneously with rough guitar patches. Their latest offering, Quiet Moments, continues this trend, but offers it up on a softer platform—calm in the eye of the storm.
The cover art of Quiet Moments is an apt representation of the image it conjures through its hour-long runtime: vast, gloomy soundscapes that echo through open winter wonderlands of naked trees and the whiteout of the sky. VanPortfleet’s whispers and murmurs never fail to be hauntingly frigid, marrying into the droning guitar riffs that slowly burn in midnight blizzards, such as on “Greenland” and the piano-heavy tragedy that is “The Visitor.” “The Wind Sings” and “Dead Leaves Fall” see Lycia exploring electronic territory, fuzzed and ravaged by icy production textures that harden both compositions to calloused slabs of stone.
Traces of classic Lycia can be found on the heavily fabled Projekt band’s new album, but Quiet Moments is kept to a gentle, far-away tension that whirs, hums, and cries in an enveloping wind. Recalls of Cocteau Twins and The Chameleons are still deep down in the recesses of the suffocating moroseness, but Lycia’s finesse as an act that is often imitated, never duplicated, is kept to a high standard with Quiet Moments.