If love is a bright sound comprised of major chords, loosened by reverb and a laid back beat, then it's appropriate that Choir Vandals's debut full-length, Dark Glow explores the subject throughout its twelve bright, easy songs. Its title, Dark Glow, suits it, too, but not because of its luminous connotations. Instead, the oxymoron fits along with what it implies about love. It's the songs on Dark Glow, the music and melodies that feel so bright. "Hard to Hold" is among the brightest, with its gem-like chords and drumbeat like boulders tumbling down a mountain. Singer and guitarist Austin McCutchen contributes his dazed voice to the display – slurs his words, bends his voice, flips into a falsetto – adding serenity to an already lazy summer song.
Of course, as the album's title implies, just because these are bright love songs doesn't mean that there aren't some shadows, too. The title Dark Glow is taken from the song "Head in the Oven," another shimmering, spinning song; though its music expresses love's brightness, the lyrics paint a more conflicted picture: "Dizzy when the feeling's right," McCutchen croons, "tripped up and tried to dance in perfect time / got lost inside the record player's mind, spinning around with no cover design." Love may be a bright sound, but Dark Glow reminds us to listen to what it's really saying – to not be distracted by mere beauty, to heed its obvious advice. Here, Choir Vandal's first outing reveals more than musical maturity; more than a band that has found its lush, layered sound. It reveals personal maturity and wisdom – the sort of truth that only experience can provide..