Hide and Seek by Suit of LightsRelease date: August 28, 2020
If you’ve recently missed getting your old Caravan, Robert Wyatt, Hatfield & The North, as well as XTC albums, you may not need to. Here comes, Joe Darone, not out of Canterbury, England but out of New Jersey USA, with Hide and Seek, his latest album under Suit of Lights moniker! These days they would file such a sound under the ‘art rock’ folder. Strange? Well, not really. Darone started out back in the late Eighties as a post-punk with The Fiendz and a bit later moved to power pop as a member of The Rosenbergs. So, a change of style, and bringing in some serious melody elements are not exactly something unknown to Darone.
On Hide and Seek he has assembled a crew that really fits the task – Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle), Steve Pedulla (Thursday), and Jamie Egan (Streetlight Manifesto), who were his collaborators on the four previous Suit of Lights albums. But why this sound and why label it art-rock?
Back in the Seventies prog rock was a more encompassing term than it is now, and the Canterbury Sound was tucked into as a perfect fit for music that certainly did not qualify for pop, even though it relied more on melody than improvisation. On the other hand, XTC’s sound evolved from its punk/post-punk origins into something like a cross between Canterbury, power, and baroque pop.
This is exactly where Barone locates his ten compositions here, recalling everybody from Wyatt and keyboard sound of Caravan’s Richard Sinclair to Andy Partridge’s and Colin Moulding’s excursions, together or by themselves. And frankly, both Darone’s compositions and the manner in which Suit of Lights handle them do such a sound combination justice.
But then, you might ask what is a New Jersey dude doing with such a distinctly English sound? Well, the answer might lie in the fact that if you pick any of those dusty Canterbury or latter-day XTC albums up, you probably wouldn’t be able to say for sure when they were recorded – yesterday or 15 or 50 years ago. The same can be said about the Suit of Lights’ Hide and Seek.