Sweet Lights marks the first full length LP for Shai Halperin under the Sweet Lights name. This is a beautifully produced, if not an occasionally eerie, 11-track success. The Pink Floyd and Beatles influences are put on display throughout the album, their aesthetic invoked imaginatively, which could seem like simply an homage to them if not for the fact that Halperin takes control and makes the sound his own. Vocally, Halperin almost seems to plead to be heard, his delicate voice sliding through the music where at any moment, with no notice, it could get lost without a trace.
The opening track, “Message On the Wire”, seems to guide the listener to the trap door of Halperin’s world where you can’t help but fall into. We’re cautioned, in that Pink Floyd sort of way, that “it’s not for everyone success and lunacy it’s not for everyone such misery", but even at this early stage you can’t help but follow, there’s no turning back. “Endless Town” delights with a crisp marching sound, eventually leading to a whirling crescendo.
“Red Lights” winds through several roads including a stop at the gates bringing with it memories of that piper at dawn. “Waterwell” is a beautiful song, and seemingly the most personal track on the album. Halperin’s vocals simultaneously trouble and delight the soul. “You Won’t Be There” continues this journey with sparkling guitars interwoven with breathy layered vocals.
The “Ballad of Kurt Vile #2” revisits the earlier “Endless Town”, even beginning the song with the same lyrics. However, it seems to turn more optimistic even as his frail voice drifts through the chorus. “Here Comes The Son” is more than a clever Beatles pun; it’s the ode to his influences. For me this album works best as a whole. While there are many highlights, the greatest is the atmosphere created by the album unit, a wonderfully haunting experience and one that I highly recommend.
FINAL MARK: A