Lightning Bug shines a light on life’s struggles
A Color of the Sky is the latest project of the Brooklyn-based Lightning Bug. The five-piece band is made up of Audrey Kang (singer/songwriter), Kevin Copeland (multi-instrumentalist), Logan Miley (producer) and the two newest members Dane Hagen (drums) and Vincent Puleo (bass). The album comes two years after their last, October Song, a project so chaotic it nearly caused the band to break up. “I felt spent, I felt tired, I felt uninspired, I felt like I was at the end of something and I didn’t feel hopeful,” said Kang in an interview with the Fader. Fans of the band are happy to see October Song was not the end and welcome A Color of the Sky, a 10-track album that discusses life’s complexities and the passage of time with a new distinctive shoegaze-meets-folk sound.
“The Right Thing Is Hard To Do” is the second track off the album, and tells a melancholic story of growing up, inner and societal turmoil and lessons learned and unlearned. The song opens with the lines, “As a child, I used to hide/ in the nooks of playground slides/ and time/ time was on my side/ then the years went by, and I/ found different ways to hide/ I learned how to lie/ and keep the things I felt inside.” The lyrics are incredibly honest and all too relatable. As the song continues, the listener hears more stories of turbulence and important realizations. The song finishes on a more positive note with the lyrics: “love steady grows/ so I’ll let it grow/ grow and grow/ so I’ll let it grow.”
Whereas “The Right Thing Is Hard To Do” is special for its lyrical content, “Wings of Desire” is notable for its instrumentals. It’s a serene, soft-spoken song that paints a beautiful and vivid picture in the mind of the listener. When listening to the track, one is transported to a flowing river, surrounded by birds and crickets, with a swirling breeze. The instruments are used to imitate sounds of nature, and the angelic vocals add a beautiful layer of depth to the scene. “Wings of Desire” is a distinct piece with a special ability to show the listener, not just tell.
“September Song, pt ii” is a follow-up to “September Song,” a track off October Song. Lightning Bug’s discography is thick with feelings of nostalgia and can be seen clearly in the constant reference to time in their track titles. Like the rest on the album, “September Song, pt ii” discusses the passage of time and the various phases of life. “I am raw/ I am new in the transition” reminds the listener of the struggle and vulnerability one faces in times of development. This song is a reminder that change is so often the only constant in life, and the best thing to do is embrace it.
“Song of the Bell” is an intense track right from the start. It opens with the chaotic noise of the band building in volume. until Kang’s haunting vocals come in with gut-wrenching lyrics such as: “if I empty me of all myself/ am I a vessel or a shell/ mining for the substance in the dark and precious well/ pour out my convictions till I’m hollow as a bell.” The band hits the nail right on the head with this track, so cleverly discussing questions of identity and self that just about anyone can relate to.
“I Lie Awake” mixes the Lightning Bug’s grungier side with a bit of cinematics. The opening guitar is gritty and powerful but is later met with a band of string instruments to balance out the heavier sound. The chorus is a surge of sounds one almost feels like they’re spinning when listening to this track. At this point, the vocals seem to be swallowed by the rest of the band, yet the emotion comes through as strong as ever. The intensity continues to heighten and fade throughout the song, like the swell of the tide, until the outro, which returns to the same serious yet simple guitar riff the song started with. This song is yet another standout for the band, showcasing their incredible ability to take storytelling beyond words.
A Color of the Sky is an elegant, beautifully crafted project of ambient soundscapes mixed with important, relatable themes of individual and societal strife, personal growth and the passage of time. This project has proven Lightning Bug to be a powerhouse of a band, showcasing their brilliant lyrics and instrumentals. Each track poses its own existential questions that fills the listener with simultaneous uncertainty and understanding. It’s truly a remarkable piece of work.