AI PHOENIX - The Light Shines Almost All The Way

Ai Phoenix - The Light Shines Almost All The Way

11 songs
38:38 minutes
***** **


Ai Phoenix is a three-piece from Bergen in Norway. Founded in 1997, they released five records until 2003. After a longer break, they are finally back with The Light Shines Almost All The Way which can be considered a big step forward in Ai Phoenix’ band history. They still follow their fixed line of quiet and mellow lo-fi tunes, but present them from a more diverse side than in the past. That’s at least what the band info says, so I take it at face value as I’m not too familiar with the band’s past.

Although I usually prefer hard and rhythmic music to slower one, I find nevertheless some pleasure in listening to this album. The opener You And I is a calm and dreamful tune that immediately puts you in the right mood for the next forty minutes. It’s hard to believe that this is the album’s heaviest track. Companion is much slower but so well constructed that there are no boring moments. A first highlight is the banjo accompanied, country sounding Peter Pan that shows some parallels to The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Another one of my favourites is Like We Know where the keyboard is creating a slightly psychedelic touch. The album’s masterpiece is the seven minute long He Kisses The Streets I Walk that has the feeling of dark atmospheric French pop song.

The combination of sentimental, maybe sometimes even sleepy, male and female vocals is working wonderfully. Mona Mork and Patrick Lundberg, who both are also responsible for the songwriting, are a great team. Together they often create sweet but sad lo-fi slow-pop tunes of the highest level. The band has the right sense for melodies which are never too catchy and comparisons to Leonard Cohen, Mazzy Star and Giant Sand may be allowed. The band has reached a mature level that probably aims more at an adult than at a younger audience.

The only negative aspect is that the band’s slow approach to the songs is sometimes exaggerated and the album contains three songs (Broken Bones, The Party’s Over, She Eats Stones) which just aren’t spectacular enough. But generally, Ai Phoenix know a lot about beautiful songwriting, and their latest album is well worth being listened to.

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