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Peaking Lights

by Ali Hibbs on July 26, 2012

Reggae, as a genre, used to be a critical punching bag for the indie music upper-crust. It was always a hypocritical pose for those whose tastes skewed to the darker emotions of postpunk to dismiss the sunny skank of Jamaica without acknowledging the debt bands like the Clash or Bad Brains owed to those positive vibrations, but what’s more amazing is how that set’s appetite for irony couldn’t revive the one-drop rhythm even while it’s systematically resurrected smooth-jazz saxophone solos (Destroyer, M83) and all manner of ’80s synth kitsch these past few years. 


Lo-fi psychedelic duo Peaking Lights’ sophomore record Lucifer is not the first to unselfconsciously reincorporate reggae (Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras went all-in on a collaboration with reggae vocal legends the Congos this year) but they similarly make the genre au courant by stressing reggae’s spookier dub elements. After all, dub pioneers like King Tubby and Scratch Perry were essentially bedroom laptop artists at a time when studios and house bands were still necessary to their headphone wizardry.

“Cosmic Tides” is Peaking Lights’ strongest entry in this category, while in other places the married couple Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis prefer other pulsing idioms: American minimalism on “Moonrise,” 8-bit sound collage on “Live Love” and something that might as well be called dreambeat on “Dreambeat.” Throughout, Coyes’ tracks shroud Dunis’ incantory vocals with gauzy fog that render the lyrics less foreboading than they are doe-eyed, especially when heralding the arrival of their newborn on “Beautiful Son.”