Published Oct 21, 2016Nostalgia is a powerful drug. From Stranger Things to Freetown Sound, 2016 has seen more and more artists mining the past to craft the future. Unfortunately, as Vesuvio Solo prove on their sophomore LP, sometimes being stuck in the past has its pitfalls.
Featuring former TOPS bassist Thom Gillies, the Montreal trio's sophomore LP is a love letter to early '80s pop. The songs on the aptly titled Don't Leave Me in the Dark feel naturally nocturnal, designed to accompany lonely cab rides back from the club or solitary nights at home. It works particularly well on the couple of pieces of shimmery adult contemporary here, particularly on the title track and "Mirror Held to the Flower." There's really not a lot of variation here though, and what sounds mysterious and charming on some songs just comes across as needlessly morose on others.
Don't Leave Me in the Dark has lots of good ideas and a coherent aesthetic, but struggles to see them through to the end. No amount of tasteful sax meandering can save the listless reveries of "Interlude" and album closer "Nimbus," while the boisterous "Guardian" — which boasts decadent Fleetwood Mac-esque swagger but can't kick into a second gear, settling instead for a banal chorus of "love is a chain reaction" — is one of too many moments of squandered potential.
There are flashes of a better album here. The best track is undoubtedly "Flakes," which features a delightfully dreary piano lead reminiscent of Al Stewart's best work. It's got a warmth and vitality that's too often forgone in favour of uneven genre exercises. That's not to say that nostalgia can't pay dividends — just ask Gillies' former band. Ultimately though, Don't Leave Me in The Dark is more style than substance. There are better reasons to hop in the DeLorean. (Atelier Ciseux / Banko Gotiti Records)