Gig review: Son Lux at Headrow House, Leeds

Son Lux
Son Lux
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It’s hard to know where to start unpicking Ryan Lott’s portfolio. A classically trained musician, the Coloradan has scored film soundtracks, worked as an ad man, and collaborated with Sufjan Stevens on the Sisyphus project.

Since 2007 he’s also found time to write and record under the monitor Son Lux. Previously a one-man project, he toured with guitarist-composer Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang in 2013 before they became fully paid up members for the recording of this year’s album Bones.

The contribution of Chang, especially, is one of the set’s defining features. Drawing on elements of prog-rock, synth-pop and jazz, the drummer’s off-kilter rhythms blur the lines between the outfit being dance and purely academic.

This musical hinterland brings a sense of intrigue to their performance as songs unexpectedly change time signatures, brass samples appear out of nowhere, and staccato beats cede to cymbal shimmers.

It’s a style of avant-pop that can nonetheless feel suffocating at times and, as such, there’s a sense of relief when more straightforward tracks are interspersed throughout the set.

‘Change Is Everything’, which has shades of Wild Beasts in Lott’s faux-operatic vocals, is a deceptively simple opening track but it’s ‘Now I Want’ that truly raises the prospect of a surprise breakout hit. Starting as a skittery cousin to Sparks, it embraces an eerie female chorus before the instruments drop out and the audience is invited to clap the rhythm.

Its celebratory, anthemic quality is a high from which the set never recovers but Son Lux’s overall ambition and oddity marks them out as a band to watch with interest.