To many, the sound of a violin is unparalleled – apart from by its various siblings. Anything that requires a fiddle is simplistic majestic really. It’s no surprise then that there was a mild furore surrounding violin virtuoso Kishi Bashi after releasing his debut album 151a. And you’d be pleased to know that your ears will be receiving much of the same brightly coloured chamber-pop that made tracks like ‘Bright Whites’ and ‘Manchester’ so popular.
Lighght opens with Kishi’s improvised, looped violins before treating us to the infectious ‘Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!’ It doesn’t take long for the words to roll off your tongue but ‘The Ballad of Mr. Steak’ doesn’t sit so well. The bassline feels like it’s been manufactured for chart music and it completely goes against Kishi Bashi usual knack for writing pop songs without them becoming cheesy and superficial.
But it doesn’t take long for Kaoru Ishibashi to find the tender sweet-spot that makes his sound so endearing though. ‘Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her’ does exactly that as his warm vocals soar over affectionately picked guitars and swooning violins. The stripped-back ‘Q&A’ is a particularly heart-warming highlight no doubt helped by the radiant hint of Cat Stevens making it the perfect soundtrack for any fanciful Wes Anderson scene.
Overall – except for ‘Mr. Streak’ – Lighght is altogether a more coherent project than 151a. You’d expect it to be though because while the latter was crafted during any time he could find whilst touring with of Montreal, and Regina Spektor, Lighght is a more concerted effort and as albums alongside each other, this shows. It’s got more presence, a kind of grandiose stature that envelopes you and you’re left with no choice but to flirtingly smile at its playful attitude.
There’s so little to dislike about Kishi’s kaleidoscopic approach to music. And once you’re done with all the spirited tones in the first half, you’ll find more substance in the heavier, more psychedelic second half. I’m just sorry for bringing you this review now and not in the infancy of summer when it was released. So my only redemption is that it’ll keep you warm for the inevitable winter months. What his albums never reflect though is the mesmerising wizardry he exudes on a live stage.