It’s not everyday some famous British New Wave star just decides to front a seemingly unrelated production team. Like, what if New Order’s Bernard Sumner decides to lend his vocals to Justice? Or what if Billy Idol was the new frontman for Daft Punk? Actually, last year saw Robert Smith combining forces with Crystal Castles. So what happens when Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan teams up with Soulsavers members Rich Machin and Ian Glover? Magic. The Light the Dead See is proof that emotional music can exist without whining or sacrificing accessibility.
“Tonight” is a pure Brit Pop track worthy of Oasis fans’ approval. With clean-strummed guitars, a couple strings, and harmonized “oohs” and “ahhs”, this track screams 90s–oddly enough, in the best way possible. “I Can’t Stay” heavily pulls on heartstrings, sounding like an ode to Morrissey. Sleepy, drowsy but not dark, Gahan begs for tears as Machin and Glover carefully build a nice wall of sound with strings and wet, reverby drums making it hard for listeners to crack a smile.
By the time “Gone Too Far” comes on, listeners should be expecting to be treated to something other than slowly strummed guitars and sad lyrics, but who cares? Pop records have always been meant to force a listener into emotional submission, and this album is no different. Any sense of “happiness” would throw The Light the Dead See off immensely.|
This album isn’t all weeping and rain, though. Through these kinds of songs, we learn, as music fans, to find joy in the dark lyrics, the cinematic build-ups, and the hurt in the singer’s voice. The Light the Dead See ultimately plays like a narrative. The soulful backup vocals almost make the album feel right at home between sad Broadway moments heard in rock musicals like Rent or even Phantom of the Opera. Over-dramatic pop music is, indeed, making a comeback.