Los Angeles-based pop/alternative Nico Vega will drop their second full-length studio album on July 22nd, titled Lead to Light. 2009’s self-titled release led them into the limelight with it’s energetic, fiery, attidude-filled, pop/rock sound and turned a lot of heads… somewhat like if you had Shirley Manson and Garbage in a fist fight with Bjork. Either way, it earned them touring spots with acts like Metric, Blondie, No Doubt, and Imagine Dragons. Not too shabby.
On Lead to Light much of the fire has been subdued, which tends to happen as acts get bigger and go for a bigger sound. The punk rock aesthetic makes way for something more driving, uplifting, and groove-based.
Aja Volkman’s voice is strong as ever, and carries even more of the Bjork-esque inflections this time. The energy and passion still screams from her throat, and she uses that unique voice quite well here. But for having such an incredible presence, I feel that she’s knocked down a bit by music that fails to keep up with her lead. This is my only real issue with Lead to Light: the music.
Many of the tracks sound like they contain recycled sections from Mumford & Sons or Lorde (see: “No Home” or “Back of My Hand”). “Dance” sounds straight out of an 80’s movie montage from The Breakfast Club or Footloose, and that’s fun. However it’s nothing new, although I did thoroughly get a kick out of the very-Phil-Collins-ish drum fill on “Good”.
But then you get to tracks like “Fury Oh Fury” and “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and all is well. Some of that Nico fire returns, and those are certainly two really great tunes with head-bobbing beats, rock n’ roll guitar work, intense vocals, and some unsettling vibes. As if Aja were Adele’s rebellious little sister.
So, Lead to Light is sort of a mix of old and new. Current Nico Vega fans should respond well to it, and new fans will come flocking once these tracks hit radio and the band hits the road.
Bottom line: Lead to Light is certainly a departure from what Nico Vega fans may have come to expect. However it’s still grand, airy, layered, well constructed, and will have audiences dancing and singing. There are a lot of singles on here, and I’d surely count on seeing them headlining tours from here on out. But despite this, I still think it’s a shame that they mellowed out. Their crazy energy and attitude is what set them apart and made people take notice in the first place. I guess it’s time for Nico Vega to move on to bigger and better things.
Keep an eye out for their new single “I Believe (Get Over Yourself)”, and check out what they have to say about it below:
Categories: Album Reviews