The Capsules - Northern Lights And Southern Skies
Record Label: Vespera Records
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, self proclaimed ‘dream pop’ trio, The Capsules are an interesting band. The band, consisting of husband/wife duo Julie and Jason Shields and drummer, Kevin Trevino, play somewhat understated synth-pop that ebbs and flows out of your speakers and glides into the back of your brain. Northern Lights and Southern Skies is their fourth album and is a record that wraps the listener up in a gentle bubble of dreamy beats and sugary sweet vocals.
Throughout the ten tracks of the release, the listener is met with delicate guitars, youthful female vocals and slow, repetitive beats. Second track “From The Start” pretty much encapsulates (eh? eh?) the sound of the entire release. Cloaked in a languid atmosphere, twinkling, subtle guitars lay the bed on which Shields’ vocals drive through the dreamy air and break through with their clarity and sharpness. It’s the perfect song to get lost within with its light air and breezy feel. The other side of The Capsules relies on heavy, slow synth beats. “Our Apocalypse” sounds like a club song slowed down by a hundred and brings to mind a somewhat more normal Crystal Castles. The beats are skillfully executed and manage to come across as just another piece of instrumentation rather than overwhelming the entirety of the song. All in all, The Capsules have perfect knowledge of how to make a song sound attractive without overdoing it.
However, as pretty as the album can be, it’s hard to pick out any particular highlights. It features no great tracks, just good tracks. “Time Will Only Tell” is probably the catchiest song on the album and is the sort of thing one would hear on a video game soundtrack, but the key word there is “soundtrack”. As a single, it would be easy to forget the song quite quickly after listening to it and this is something that lets The Capsules down a lot. Maybe it’s intentional, maybe the band are trying to lull the listener into a sleepy state but for a band to pull this off, they need to have an extra edge, a feature that gives the music personality. Bands like Beach House have this and that’s why they’ve succeeded in bringing an ultimately underground sound to the mainstream, if The Capsules want to establish themselves they need to rely a little on less on the vocals and maybe, every now and then, allow those build ups to reach a crescendo.
All-in-all, Northern Lights And Southern Skies is the sound of a band who know what road they’re on, but lack direction. Although this album is dripping with potential, it never quite reaches the heights of the dream pop bands that we all know and love. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.