Luminate Again | Posted July 31, 2012 Staff Reviewer
The Texas rock quartet known as Luminate made a splash in Christian music back in early 2011 with the release of their debut album on Sparrow Records, Come Home. While most debut projects are less than memorable, the group garnered a large amount of attention for their familiar yet original style, consisting of moody electronic melodies while still maintaining a lyrically kingdom-minded and worshipful focus.
The band's first single, "Come Home,” made waves on radio, and quickly earned the band—comprised of members Aaron Mathew (drums), Dusty Jakubik (bass), Cody Clark (guitar/keys), and Sam Hancock (lead vocals/guitar/piano)—not only a fast fan base, but also coveted opening spots on tours alongside Sanctus Real and Big Daddy Weave.
Already being compared to the likes of high profile acts such as Tenth Avenue North and Leeland, to say there was pressure to make a follow-up album just as stellar as their debut, if not more, would be an understatement. Not shy to the challenge, the group teamed up with producers Chris Stevens and Pete Kipley to hit the studio and create an ambient rock lovers dream album with the result being their 2012 sophomore release, Welcome To Daylight.
When asked about a recurring theme on the album, lead vocalist Sam Hancock describes it as "Singing and expressing joy in the midst of the trouble", saying it is "gonna be an upbeat and encouraging record.” And an ‘upbeat encouraging record' it certainly is.
The project kicks off with the deeply sonic namesake, "Welcome To Daylight,” serving as an impressive intro to an album filled with it's fair share of melodic ear candy. "Wake Up" is up next and follows along the same sunny lines lyrically, encouraging the listener to awake from the darkness and start to live in the light. I'm especially fond of the unpredictably anathematic bridge, which takes the song to a whole new level.
The album's first single, "Banner Of Love" rises as a reverential battle cry and is sure to be yet another hit for the band. "Heal This Home" takes an honest look into a broken and loveless marriage, and bids the truth that no matter how hopeless the bond looks, God is able to heal even the most damaged relationship and make it new again. "They were living in a world of make believe / And they couldn't see the cracks growing underneath / But God restores and opens doors to the love, to the life, they're looking for."
"The Only Thing That Matters" comes as an unshaken proclamation that God's love is the only thing that matters in a world full of darkness and cynicism, and makes a nice transition into the gritty pop tune "Never Give Up,” offering a message of hope in the midst of heartache.
"Battle For Peace" switches things up a bit, taking more of a stringed-laced folk approach. The song becomes an unconventional moment of worship, surrendering our self-destructive search for peace at the feet of the only One who can truly give it to us.
"This Ends Tonight" opens with a mock 80's ballad guitar riff and quickly delves back into electronic pop. The song is an in-your-face callout to the enemy, and makes the bold declaration that we're done believing all the lies he's tried to feed us. It‘s one of the best songs on the record.
Breathy and full of quirks, "Love Is Loud" paints a beautiful picture of how the manifest love of God can be found in almost every aspect of life's journey. Similar to classic Owl City on the musical front, "Living In A Memory" talks about letting go of hurtful memories and forgiving ourselves for mistakes we've made, just as Christ has forgiven us.
"Holds Us All Together" brings this album to a close on a worshipful note, sharing that nothing is bigger or stronger than the love of God, and it's His love that holds us together, in the good times and the bad. “If love is a fire, then God, let it fall right now / Take our walls and burn them down / Set us free from fear that we're hiding / Come take all we have."
I was absolutely captivated by this album from the first note of the opening song. From the bright synthetic elements to the heart-on-your-sleeve songwriting, it's nearly impossible to a fault with this project, and I can listen to the whole thing without skipping a single song. It's easy to see Luminate is a band that is still trying to master their style and distinguish it as their own, but I think they've definitely struck something big with Welcome To Daylight.
Distinct, delightful, and rather unexpected, this is one of my favorite albums of the year, and you'd be doing yourself a great favor by checking it out. Luminate has a "bright" future ahead of them, and I know that many, now including myself, are looking forward to what lies ahead for this talented group of guys.