Space: the final frontier. Or perhaps just a place to get lost. Or to lose yourself. What is the music of the heavens, alight airy wash or a clamoring thunder? Is it both or something else entirely? A light pulsing and soft vocals begin Tonight Sky’s self-titled debut, setting the tone for much of the album. Lush synthesizers and pulsing, muted percussion seek to lift and carry you elsewhere. Nature themes and celestial references abound, augmenting the wash of epic soundscapery. This is not rock music but a soundtrack to an unseen movie, a sea of sound endlessly flowing.
Throughout the album the arrangements are soothing and atmospheric, but often lack a certain impinging element, serving more as background music than tangible candy for the intent listener. Also, there is not enough change in dynamics or voices to make fifteen tracks make sense. This is not to say the music isn’t beautiful and dynamic; it is. But anyone familiar with M83’s landmark record Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming will likely be unable to resist comparing the two works, and understandably so. Tonight Sky feels a little softer, a little less dynamic and therefore less memorable. Like it or not, M83 set a certain standard for what to expect from these kind of synth songs.
Another factor pulling this album from its position amongst the stars is vocal delivery. It’s easy to overlook what’s being said by the more ethereal voices as they become one with the music, just another instrument. But on the few tracks with a distinct lead, the voices stand out a bit too plain, too “white people,” not quite gelling with the ornate soundscapes supporting them. The music is so full of depth and mood that the “just folks” delivery is often disappointing.
Tonight Sky is not a bad album and will definitely find fans, but is unfortunately a little flat by comparison.