Belgian music producer/composer Yves Schlepe is back with a new Psy'Aviah album titled 'Lightflare,' in some ways similar to 2016's 'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars,' and in other ways, not so much. The similarity is in the vocalists Yves uses this time around - 'SSSS' alumni Kyoko Baertsoen, David Chamberlin, Mari Kattman, Ellia Bisker, Fallon Nieves, and Addie Nicole are all back for another go-round. There are some new voices too but we'll get to them in time. The overwhelming impression I had of 'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars' was a cornucopia of eclectic electronica. I can't say that's the case with 'Lightflare.' Schlepe calls the album his "testament to hope," but sometimes hope just
isn't enough. You've got to back it up with great songwriting, and often that's difficult to do. Too many tracks fall short in that department. Opening with "Lost At Sea" (Mari Kattman) on vocals we find a mid-tempo number that's totally dependent on Kattman's voice floating in the upper register for the chorus hook. It's an okay song, but nothing to write home about. Ellia Bisker is up next with the similarly paced "Aftermath," and the best thing about this song is the harmony vocals that follow the lead like an echo. I will admit the song has a bit more going for it melodically than the opening track, but it just isn't a "grabber". Perhaps the best song on "Lightflare" is "The Great Disconnect" sung by Psy'Aviah's live vocalist Marieke Lightband. This is a wonderful piece of modern moody trip hop with very cool melody, excellent contemporary lyrics, and Lightband's superb sultry vocals which really sell it. As good as Addie Nicole is on 'The Sound of the New" (and she's plenty good) the song sounds like a blatant attempt just to go mainstream commercial. Plenty of hook, and about as much substance as a can of Pringles. If you thought that might be pandering, "In the Sound" featuring MiXE1 is part DivaPop, part electro-rap. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe this is what the kids want to hear nowadays, but it struck me as kind of crass. "For Myself" featuring Lofthill sounds like
Trent Reznor in a boy band. Mari Kattman is back on "Heavy Heart" and as good as she is, the song just wallows in misery without anything else that makes it compelling. "Reboot Reset Relay" sung by Fallon Nieves is a step up with its cyber-themed meme, and a strong dance vibe as well. David Chamberlin gives it his best soulful shot on "Ghost," which has a good dark electro groove but lacks any memorable hook. Phoebe Stone takes the vocal helm on "Lonely Soul" which kind of sounds as melancholy as its title but at least has a memorable hook. Kyoko Baertsoen executes "Plan B" and due mainly to her sublime vocals makes it the second best track on the album. MiXE1 is back with "Game Changer," and though I wouldn't call it a game-changer for the album, it's a lot better than "In the Sound." It has some edginess, which I suppose is just what's needed at this point. "Under the Rain" (vs. Koner) is an understated number that almost captures a little of the eclecticism of 'SSSS'. Final track "Mr Vanity" is a cheeky number with Fallon Nieves on vocals quite reminiscent of "Not What I Expected" off the previous album. The production is really good on 'Lightflare' and vocally everyone gives it their best, but the songwriting is uneven often leaving something to be desired. I understand that there is a deluxe version of this album with a 2nd remix CD, but I wasn't sent that one. (Don't think it would have made much of a difference anyway.) Instead, Yves sent me an Alpha Matrix label compilation CD with a Psy'Aviah cut on it. I'll be reviewing that sometime in the near future when I've has a chance to absorb it all.