Space Waves bassist-vocalist Sarah Bourland unwittingly sums up the entirety of her band's second full-length a mere 25 seconds into the song "Underworld": "Nothing's quite wrong/But it's not quite right.â
She and her two bandmates—husband Kelley Bourland and drummer Mark Loftin—do everything a trio of Spacemen 3 and Slowdive worshippers should do. The guitar is sent through a bank of effects pedals, reverb is slathered on the vocals, and every melody and rhythm is set on repeat to create a hypnotic effect. They hit all the right notes. So why does it feel so flat and affectless?
With few exceptions, most of the tracks on Beam of Light float past in a narcotic haze. The rhythms barely rise above a normal resting heartbeat, and no one instrument or voice pushes itself forward. Not a bad thing in moderation, but when sustained over the better part of 40 minutes, it's downright oppressive.
That approach certainly helps the more awake moments on the album. The growling "Stealin Time" and the near-jangly opener "Turns" feel like the titular beams of light cutting through the mist, and listening to Sarah Bourland's delicate voice push to be heard against the washes of cymbals and processed guitar sound makes for some fantastic tension. Try as it might, those touches can't help add the necessary heat to bring this album to a much-needed boil.
SEE IT: Space Waves plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with Spirit Lake, Thomas Mudrick and Boing, on Friday, June 14. 9 pm. $8. 21+.