Even if you haven’t heard of Swedish post-rock project Lights & Motion, chances are, you probably have. Featured in commercials for Google and Visa, as well as trailers for major films like Lone Survivor and Homefront, the towering, optimistic forces behind Lights & Motion have manifested themselves in a number of ways. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Lights & Motion isn’t even a band. Christoffer Franzen writes each song, and plays every instrument that you hear in his songs. Tirelessly working on new material, Chronicle is the latest set of songs by Franzen. Here, Lights & Motion once again shows off his ability to craft an enticing array of music for our ears once more.
Whether or not you have taken the time to listen to his previous work, Chronicle does Lights & Motion well on its own merit. Just like the albums before it, Chronicle is filled with uplifting, euphoric, post-rock. The huge, symphonic, instrumentals build and crash like waves, each song bringing a sense of patience that few styles of music can. It is sure to strike a chord with non-fans and licensing companies alike, as those familiar with Lights & Motion will get what they ask for. If you are a fan of post-rock, these songs won’t provide you the same complexities and intricacies that Godspeed You! Black Emperor or even Explosions in the Sky provide, as these are still very much surface level instrumentals.
Like his last album, Save Your Heart, Lights & Motion opts for a shorter, more concise piece. Chronicle works very well together, as each song runs in sequence with one another. Rather than a few rehashes of the same song, the nine songs on Chronicle are like a multi-movement piece of sorts, as they present a unified motif manipulated in different ways. While there aren’t recurring elements of sound evident in each song, it feels as if each song is meant to compliment the other, with rise and fall within each song encapsulated within that of the record as a whole.
While Chronicle is pretty much what you’d expect from Lights & Motion, there is some evidence that Franzen is experimenting with his established sound. Those familiar with Explosions in the Sky are sure to notice subtle hints of their style in “Antlers”, with its delicate guitar melodies and shifting dynamics, while “Reborn” is as dark as we’ve seen from the typical jubilation of Franzen’s work, with its trudging crescendo and relatively intense instrumental attack. In addition, the short piano interludes like “Northern Lights” and “Paper Wings” are nice ways to tie the whole album together, drawing away from the full band power that defines the rest of it. It’s great to see Lights & Motion create another album like this, as it is proves up to the standard of his previous work.
That being said, expanding upon this experimentation would be a welcome shift, as it is exciting to think about where he can go from here. Chronicle stands strong on its own, but it is tough to tell whether or not he can get away with another work like this. It seems as if Franzen is getting a little too comfortable in his mold. He’s used to this whole uplifting, awe-inspiring style that is built for a commercial or a movie score, filled with elements of wanderlust and an endless grandeur. It’s not like he’s writing the same song over and over again, but instead we’re getting something that we have all grown to expect. Even if you haven’t listened to him before, it will only take a few songs to understand what he is trying to accomplish. That is not to say that the results are bad or anything, as he succeeds in creating something captivating and exciting on Chronicle, but if he were to channel these abilities into further exploration, Lights & Motion may find himself amazing us in ways we could’ve never imagined.
Christoffer Franzen is a prolific songwriter, constantly working to create something that we can marvel at. With Lights & Motion, he has managed to establish himself as a post-rock stalwart. Chronicle is a testament to his focus and direction, as it is a rewarding, albeit surface level, listen for start to finish. If he were to carry the level of intense focus we find here, Lights & Motion may be able to spread itself even further than we have seen. For now, we have Chronicle, and regardless of whether or not you listen to post-rock, it is a treat worth trying, as there is something for all to enjoy here.