For a debut album, Light Asylum's eponymous effort is awfully confrontational and frighteningly assured. Then again, the Brooklyn band have been unrelenting in their peppering the internet with grim electronica for the last couple of years, and within the industry they have formed alliances with the likes of TV On The Radio and !!!, not to mention having impacted James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and the direction he now wishes to take.
Confidence is clearly something the New York duo are in possession of, which is fortunate as this bizarre gothic digital amalgamation is not an undertaking for the meek to consider. Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello have had a devout following at their mercy since the release of their 'In Tension' EP IN 2010, and have responded with a full-length recording that is in keeping with the sound that made them popular in the first place, if a little less immediate.
For newcomers, 'Light Asylum' is reliant on you responding to the contrasting styles at play, accepting Funchess offsetting the crisp electro production as more than a novelty. There certainly isn't any respite on the album. With songs like 'Sins of the Flesh' and 'End of Days', theirs is a specific sound that will alienate as many as it will please.
There's not a great deal of texture, the beats often sparse, accommodating Funchess' prominence. Spanning an entire LP, though, it can feel oppressive. This goes some way to accounting for the success of 'In Tension' - Light Asylum are best enjoyed in reasonable quantities and its just as well they restricted themselves to ten tracks here.
The whole execution of the image also falters when the lyrical content becomes heavy-handed. Funchess' voice is captivating, however she operates on the border of self-parody. On the slower, more 80s-inspired 'Shallow Tears' there is an emotive quality to the song that is elsewhere suppressed, yet her stiff boom reduces it. Too often Light Asylum's idiosyncracies end up as deterrents.