Album Review

A Flickering Light Burns Bright

Benjamin Cartel - Flickering Light

Following on the heels of an early EP called Money and Love and his full length debut Gothenberg, Flickering Light finds Benjamin Cartel exploring sounds that are bathed in timeless iridescence. They both stir and shimmer, thanks to exacting arrangements that elevate these songs into atmospheric realms. Think ELO, Alan Parsons and other like-minded bands that place their emphasis on a rich reserve of craft and care. That doesn’t mean it’s an album overstocked with posturing or pretence. Instead, Flickering Light radiates with a glow that doesn’t diminish throughout. While opening track “The Jungle Eats Everything” is as expansive as its name implies, the track that follows, “Down Now,” is assured and seductive. The easy glide of “Coast Town” and the supple sway of “Sweet Glide” underscore that assumption. Likewise, it’s hard to hear a track like “Starlight” and not be totally taken in by its spell.

That makes Flickering Light a decidedly pleasurable listen. The rocking title track aside, these songs are far from overly intrusive, but they do encourage the listener to lean in. There’s no denying the rich aura that’s so wholly hypnotic it’s given to immediate appeal. The unflinching optimism is obvious on “Tica,” which finds Cartel celebrating a love that grows "biggerer and betterer all the time," but Cartels’s astute observations are also fully illuminated by the craft and caring that go into shaping these songs and enabling them to resonate on first hearing.

Ultimately, one would be hard pressed to sample an album as pleasing as Cartel’s crafted here. Suffice it to say, Flickering Light truly shines.