Hailing from the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, musician Chris Van Der Linden and his melancholic art rock project Fourteen Twentysix find their debut studio work in the cryptically titled ‘Lighttown Closure.’ Having released a strong and promising demo, titled ‘Songs To Forget,’ I was very interested in hearing what Chris’ music would sound like as a more complete and polished work. As it turns out, Fourteen Twentysix’s first foray into a full length is a beautiful and potent piece of work, taking the style heard on the demo, and polishing it to a finish. Although the overall feel of the album can get a bit too lulling and might pass some listeners as being a tad too melancholic for their tastes, Chris Van Der Linden has made a good impression, and gone to lengths of emotional depth and introspection few progressive acts would dare to venture.
In terms of sound, Fourteen Twentysix takes aspects of melodic post rock, and blends it in with an artistic alternative rock style, with a few electronic samplings thrown in for effect. A greatly atmospheric piece of work, the music revolves around Chris Van Der Linden’s brooding style and the melancholic gravity of the subject matter. While my view of ‘Lighttown’ is quite positive now, I will admit that the first few listens were rather slow to grasp. Unless the listener is intent and makes a point of paying attention to the music from the beginning, it is easy to initially float into the background. After repeated listens however, the beauty of the music really begins to show; the album is a perfect example of a good ‘grower.’ While there isn’t a great deal of complexity in any of the compositions here, there are plenty of subtleties and nuances that the average listener won’t pick up on until several listens to the music.
None of the musicianship here is indulgent or technical; the instrumentation and arrangement of sound works well to create atmosphere however. The music generally focuses on the soothing voice of Chris himself. Much like Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame, Chris is certainly not the most technically accomplished vocalist on the block, but he makes up for it in terms of the amount of emotion he is able to carry with his voice, as well as his skillful work with harmonies. The concept of ‘emotion’ is prevalent here, and after learning a bit more about what ‘Lighttown Closure’s concept revolves around, the lyrics and music become all the more significant. With ‘Lighttown,’ Chris sings about his life; at times even going to such genuinely heartbreaking life events as losing a girlfriend to a car accident at the age of 17 (as is heard in the heartwrenching track ‘Gone Today). Most of the lyrics favour an introspective approach over a narrative aspect however, and can be lent to alot of personal interpretation.
While the album flows quite evenly, a potential flaw of the album is the fact that alot of the music sounds alike throughout; there is not a great deal of dynamic change, or introduction of new sounds and concepts throughout the piece. With that being said however, each track is relatively strong in it’s own right, although the mood stays the same throughout most of them. One of the greatest highlights to the album is the beautiful job of production that Chris has blanketed the work with; a very laudable accomplishment, considering that the act is still underground at the point of releasing this.
While ‘Lighttown Closure’ is certainly an emotive and moving piece of intelligent art rock, some listeners may find themselves strictly underwhelmed by the album’s mellowness. The project’s style is also incredibly melancholic and depressive, which means it might not suit someone on their more energetic and pleasant days. That being said however, I rarely hear albums with this sense of sincerity about them, and with a second album in the works at the time of writing this review, it seems the only way for Fourteen Twentysix to go, is up.
2) After The Storm
3) Closing Hours
4) Gone Today
5) Tonight I
6) Signals In The Sky
8) White Paint
Chris van der Linden – Vocal, Guitar, Keyboards, Sampling, Bass & Drums