St. Lucia has released their third artist album Hyperion. It didn’t feel like there was as much hype for this record as their past ones, but St. Lucia remain as important a group for the indie and synth pop genre as ever. The album comes just as the summer closes, which feels like a missed opportunity, but they hope the record will carry the summer feeling through the winter and into the spring.
The record itself doesn’t find the group trying to rewrite their own script. They know what they are good at and keep with it, but there is a noticeable difference from past work. Various members have been helping to write songs for others in the two years since Matter was released, which could have had an impact on how they approached their instrumentation and songwriting on Hyperion.
There is a move away from over the top synths and electronic instruments to a more acoustic approach with this LP. You can hear the twang of an acoustic guitar much more often on tracks like “Tokyo” and then at the end of the record with “Next To You” and “Full Moon Rising.”
Hearing “Next To You” as a single, I was afraid the album might slip into a half where they have their up-tempo, synth pop and then half 70’s piano ballad rock songs that would put the listener to sleep. However in the general context of the album it makes more sense with how they were writing the record and where it is positioned on the tracklist.
That does not mean it loses its punch as an upbeat indie-pop album with sure-fire crowd pleasers sprinkled throughout like “China Shop,” “Gun” and “Brighter Love.” “Last Dance” has the feel of a vintage St. Lucia with its soft synths carrying the record, while the album closer “You Should Know Better” brings everything on the album into one lengthy, twisting song as acoustic guitar plays next to synths and vocal harmonies.
The LP does suffer from some of the same problems that have plagued them in the past, though this is not exclusive to them at all, where singles can be the standout records and the top half of the record has the most repeatable quality. In the streaming era, the top half of an album needs to draw the listener in because the listens naturally wane towards the end unless there is a hit at the back end of the album. This has likely always been the case even on vinyl, but now we can see the numbers right in our face.
St. Lucia remain one of the better indie-synth pop groups with Hyperion. Two years on from Matter, the landscape feels a bit changed for the genre and for the group who have matured themselves and their sound. They lament the world’s addiction to phones and even ponder an impeachment sale for the president. However, the album will still give you a lift through the dark and cold winter and carry your weight into the following summer with the same feeling as the first time you heard it. Pick up the album here.