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Peaking Lights: Lucifer (Mexican Summer) 

There are two kinds of summer albums: ones that capture the season's exuberance and energy (see Twin Shadow's latest, Confess), and those that personify its lilting idleness. Lucifer is the latter kind of record, one that would be perfectly paired with Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE or Beach House's Bloom for midnight cocktails on sandy patios or long car rides into the desert in the pitch-black. It's do-nothing music, made to accompany long stretches of frittering time away.

Lucifer is also the most-unapologetically summery of all these records. It incorporates the sounds of island music—reggae beats, the chime of steel drums, tropical phrasings—with its austere, practically arid imagination. The best thing about Lucifer is how it winkingly interposes the "happy" sounds of calypso, reggae and disco with the melancholy of Indra Dunis' vocals. Songs like "Midnight (In the Valley of Shadows)" play like the Bee Gees lost in some bleak, cyberpunk cityscape, and "Cosmic Tides" reconfigures the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers as an existential crisis. For Peaking Lights, the Caribbean is a place of dangerous riptides and ships lost at sea.

But Lucifer does not wallow in darkness; it's somehow buoyant despite its dark mood. The downside here is that Lucifer can feel a bit same-y, and while the record's singular mood is bewitching, it can also feel unexciting.

Those Frank Ocean and Twin Shadow albums are almost deliriously eclectic; Peaking Lights are content to hang out in one universe.

More by Sean Bottai

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