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Levator – The Biggest Waves Come At Night

It shouldn’t be a surprise when I’m blown away by a record sent by someone who contacts me personally to review their album. After all, amazing music can be found in all corners of the world, in all genres. But sometimes an album comes along that is exactly what my ears need at a given time. Seattle trio Levator’s “The Biggest Waves Come At Night” is exactly what I need right now. I’m broke, the start of the Australian summer has turned into a washout, and all of these ‘best of 2008′ lists have started to make my head spin with all the great music I need to catch up with.

A couple of months ago I downloaded Beach House’s “Devotion”. Although there are some good songs on there, I now realise that this Levator album is actually what I wanted to hear! It’s a similar breed of dream-pop, fronted by the heavenly voice of Sky Lynn, calling from under a warm duvet of reverbed guitars, woolly beats, world-weary saxophone, and loads of droney bass and synth, all played by Lynn and her equally talented bandmates Rando Skrasek and Nate Henry. It’s a gorgeous-sounding record.

There’s just enough greasy strut – opener ’12:34’ and the rousing ‘Mocking Bird’ – to balance the more woozy numbers, which is where this record’s real beauty lies. The first time I heard ‘Dark Hair’, its eerie guitar strum and tom-tom thud instantly made my chest ache. I felt like I was back in my teenage bedroom listening to early ’90s indie band Belly’s magical Star album. Every time I play this song I’m mesmerised by the way it manages to float like a ghost in the night sky, yet feel so emotionally weighty. The cry of “Angel!” is accompanied by a lovely saxophone line and backing vocals, and you realise that it sounds like some ancient African waltz, the tribe dosed on barbiturates. “Everything!” the voices cry as the lumbering beat kicks in. The song ebbs and flows, reaching its climax with a distorted loop, hissing and spitting, to fade. Fuck, what a great song!

Followed by ‘Intro to’ and the lovely, lilting ‘Eyes’, the middle of the record signals its high point to my ears. Closer ‘Trampoline’ is great too, the guitar strum slowly succumbing to the undertow at the song’s finale. But ultimately, at eight tracks and a succinct 44 minutes, this is an album with no excess fat, worth absorbing as a whole in order to luxuriate in its complete brilliance.

This is Levator’s third album, and if their first two are anywhere near as good as this, I know where my Christmas money is going. Strongly recommended.

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