Athens, GA-based band Reptar’s travels have been well documented on Needle & Thread. The band releases their second full-length album, Lurid Glow, on March 31 via Joyful Noise Records, the follow-up to their debut LP, 2012’s Body Faucet.
Lurid Glow begins like a sunrise. The opening song, “No One Will Ever Love You” features a slow-building synth laying a groundwork, and with a gentle bend in tone, drums and vocals begin.
Lead singer Graham Ulciny begins the album by singing “Had a maturation, looking down the beam / Like a hidden symbol watching I heard it ring / Image in the half shell, faces on the screen / There’s a lot of people living for nothing.” Graham’s voice seems to have found even more confidence (if that was even possible), showcased perfectly on the track’s opener, with his range moving from a low, aggressive growl to a distinct, puncturing stocatto, and throughout the album, Ulciny creates vulnerability within his lyrics and vocals.
Reptar have aged their sound to an ideal mix of fun party music and thoughtful pieces of art, bolstered with a healthy mix of horns behind them, completely solidifying their sound. No track is simply laid out and no shortcuts are taken; each track is sonically explored, and every song holds special intricacies to find along the way.
Nestled in the heart of Lurid Glow are two tracks, “Amanda” and “Every Chance I Get,” two of Reptar’s most powerfully moving songs to date, a feat that I didn’t think was possible after Body Faucet’s deeply personal closing track, “Water Runs.”
“Amanda” begins with a light and eloquent marimba playing, and is based around this arrangement, which bassist Ryan Engelberger states is “probably the most ambitious arrangement [Reptar has] ever done.” Ulciny eventually sings a repeating chorus, “Do you love me?” and horns play to cue in and welcome back synths.
Directly after “Amanda” comes “Every Chance I Get,” a song that finds Ulciny at his most vulnerable, and showcases the range the group can hit not only as a group, but individually as well. While these tracks are mellow in comparison to Reptar’s previous catalog, it’s with these two tracks that Reptar pushes towards the brink of actual pop genius.
Lurid Glow is filled with more moments of luminescence, the track immediately following, “Easier To Die” is pure power-pop that is sure to get listeners moving on the dance floors of the clubs the group performs in this summer. “Particle Board” is as close as Reptar comes to revisiting the sounds of Body Faucet, a trippy sci-fi rocket ship of a song that takes you into outer space, much like Faucet’s “Thank You Gliese 370 B,” with Ulciny’s distorted vocals echoing above a mass of percussion and bass-driven melody.
Lurid Glow sounds vaguely familiar; Reptar makes sure not to distance themselves from the power-pop sounds found on Body Faucet and Oblangle, and it’s mostly for the better. Lurid Glow, however, is much more mature and deep, and sounds like it’s exactly what the band wanted to create, having two years to do so. The lyrics are powerful, dealing with life, love, and the notion of time, and our attempts to find ourselves and our places within each of these concepts, especially with obstacles like faith and the manmade constructs of technology and medicine.
Reptar’s experience has been well documented on this website (read our recently published interview with the group here), and as said before, these experiences could very well have left the band jaded and ready to give up. But Reptar’s music holds so many feel-good qualities we should be thankful they didn’t, and Lurid Glow is a clear example of exactly that.
Stand Out Tracks: “Every Chance I Get” // “Amanda” // “No One Will Ever Love You” // “Particle Board”