In the Shadow is a narrative track that will establish some of the tropes and themes that will ultimately broached over the entirety of Izak’s new album, The Navigator. There is a musical backing that begins to make itself known shortly after, blending together hints of new age music with gospel, before this introductory statement concludes. Light Up is an effort that has nods to Bright Eyes, Owl City, and Rufus Wainwright. The angular, electronic-tinged guitars and drums that compromise the backing instrumentation on the single gradually cede way to more insistent, ambient electronic statements. The simultaneous present of lyrical and instrumental paths ensure that listeners can enjoy the song in a number of distinct ways dependent on what they choose to set their attention toward, further increasing the replay value of the album.
The titular track on The Navigator contains another dollop of narrative intensity, wrapped up in a mid-1990s alternative style that is further varied through the inclusion of Enya-esque new age and a hint of Massive Attack’s unique take on trip-hop. The result could still easily make its way onto college rock rotation and playlists, butt the resulting track is miles beyond what represents typical fare in the genre. Further kudos has to be given to the additional vocal layers that are included during the single’s chorus.
Threw a Stone immediately will draw listeners in through an engrossing instrumental dynamic that links together traditional and electronic elements. While it is only a few short seconds until the vocals kick back in, this brief interlude is enough to allow Vian Izak the ability to delve into a wholly different musical tradition than had been previously presented on the album so far.
Midnight Dance is another effort that could easily make it into alternative playlists. For those lucky enough to have strapped on a pair of headphones, the soaring synths are able to provide an entirely different context to the vocals. The expansive sound broached during Midnight Dance continues onward to As You Healed / the Guide. The twinkling synth/percussive elements build off of the tradition of The Postal Service as Izak tattoos the melody deep into the minds and hearts of listeners. The Great Pretender is a sub two-minute track that has Vian explore a retro-futuristic soundscape. One could easily imagine the track placed alongside a rainy, neon-emblazoned backdrop. Call the Nightingale is the polar opposite of the last two effort experienced on The Navigator; very deliberate and calming pianos act as the perfect bed for Juniper Vale’s vocals. The two-part melodies that comprise the chorus ends up being some of the most beautiful music we’ve heard.
Another amazing dynamic occurs with the final two compositions on The Navigator. Morning Star has a human/electronic dichotomy with Izak’s rising and falling matched to the extraordinarily consistent sound of the synths. There’s a whole other side to this composition with the complex piano line that changes up the entire tempo of the track before Izak moves to a quicker sound at about the 2:10 mark. Representing the final 45 seconds of the album, In the Shadow of Love’s Shield is able to circle back to the narration that began the disc while feelings very distinct and different from the way the album began. The Navigator is a fulfilling release that covers a considerable amount of ground over the course of the album’s run time.
Top Tracks: Call the Nightingale, In the Shadow of Love’s Shield, As You Healed / the Guide