I’ve been getting a lot of French rock bands to review as of late. Pleïad are the third band from France in practically as many months that I’ve written a review on. I think I’ve found a little niche for my blog. But seriously, as always I’m grateful to have been given their album Lights In A Cave. One important factor in these French bands is that none of them sound alike. Pleïad is one of the softer and smoother artists I’ve ever reviewed. They have a guitar driven sound that blends many elements and influences all in one.
The first taste of these guitar driven sound is on their opening track Hansel & Gretel. The guitar tone and effects are the first thing you notice. Vocals are very soft, adding to the not so intense feeling the song gives. There’s also this incredible bass breakdown that amazes me, but it’s the guitar riffs and melodies that make this a good opening track to intrigue the attention of listeners.
Pleïad show a decent amount of variety in the songs on Lights in a Cave, but all songs come back to that mellow sound that we hear on the opening track. Disequilibrium, despite its fast guitar riff, is actually softer than Hansel & Gretel. For the most part, the song fails to equal that of the opening track, but the parts where the song picks up (particularly the choruses) are the moments the song really shines.
Vocal harmonies have been used a few times in the early tracks on Lights in a Cave but Pleïad start to make them more noticeable. I like the usage of vocal harmonies on A Caveman & a Light. This song is almost as well written as Hansel and Gretel, with great melodies, subtle yet standout guitar playing and vocal hooks put in just the right places. The next track Game of Thrones starts off with a cappella vocal harmonies. I don’t love the melody however. Nor am I particularly crazy about the song, it lacks the proper hook and comparing the songwriting to past tracks, I can already tell Pleïad can do better.
Pleïad mess with people’s perception of the band with Something Inside. Throughout the song, the bands mellow and clean guitar sound is accompanied by heavy distorted outbreaks, making for the first real time on the album a song that isn’t more mellow than it is intense. That makes for a great change for the album. And there are vocal hooks where they need to be, making it a more than listenable track. I like the simple guitar solo too. Superego similarly has a mixture of mellowness and intensity, but it sticks more to the mellow side of things. It has one of my favourite guitar riffs of the album, but the vocal melodies start to sound familiar, like maybe they were used already on the album.
That mellow sound defines Lights in a Cave‘s sound though. Pleïad know what kind of music they want to make and stick to it, which is why, before they ended the album Pleïad wanted to put one more predominantly mellow song on the album. That song is Rain & Fire Just like earlier soft songs on the album, I feel there is good songwriting and transitions into slightly more intense moments at the right times. I’m not sure how the song stands out compared to others, but it does give one last look into their preferred sound before the albums final track.
That final track is called Mute. The main reason Mute stands out over other songs on Lights in a Cave is thanks to one moment on the song involving vocals. The singing for the first time adds some intensity. At first it’s merely singing a little loudly into the microphone, but then it belts out in to a full on scream. It successfully adds intensity to the song, and a new perspective on the capabilities of the band, but that’s really the songs only significance.
The positives about Lights in a Cave and Pleïad in general is that they know how to write songs well, they have the structuring down and they know how to play their instruments great. The negatives are that sometimes they lose my attention. The songs don’t sound alike, which is good, but some parts of some songs sound like they were used in other songs. I’ve touched on that already, but it’s mainly vocal harmonies, there are at least two moments where I feel I heard that harmony or something very similar to it already. Pleïad are still miles ahead of most independent bands I’ve reviewed in song writing prowess, they just need to transform that in to more hooks.
“Hansel & Gretel” – It’s the song my mind always goes back to when I’m not listening to the album but thinking of it. It’s definitely my favourite song – but that’s never my reason for choosing the highlight – and it has the best guitar playing on the album from a structured point of view. And the sound of the guitars, especially the delay effects used, make the song very memorable. And I can’t forget that bass guitar in the breakdown too.
7 (Out of 10)
|1||– Hansel & Gretel|
|3||– A Caveman & a Light|
|4||– Game of Thrones|
|5||– Something Inside|
|7||– Rain & Fire|