Image by AWAL

“Light, Dark, Light Again” is an album for drawn-out mornings and the first break of sunshine in a month of rain.

Dan Harrison


Contributor, Co-President – Poets & Writers


Genres: Folk, indie, alt-rock, sad-people

“Light, Dark, Light Again” (Angie McMahon) is an album that builds, slowly at first, until you find yourself screaming – but screaming is too harsh a word. It is, above all, a winter album. There’s a rhythm to this corner of the world, light, dark, light again, and McMahon gives us the soundtrack. 

I keep coming back to this album, and I can’t put my finger on why. I was walking to class today, lost in the odd space between albums that grab me, so I reached for “Light, Dark, Light Again,” and I settled in. The best part of this album is the moments – the brief description, the hyper-specific breaths of memory. “Except the one time I drank too much / Fireball whiskey ‘cause I wanted you to kiss me,” she sings on the second track, “Fireball Whiskey,” and I’ve been there, I know this story. On the next track, “Fish”, McMahon closes with the refrain “But I started to feel like a fish in the ocean who knows that it’s caught on a wire,” and I know this story too. The hopelessness, the crooning vocals, the faint desire, it’s all there. 

The songs themselves oscillate between beautiful noise and deafening silence. There’s post-punk in the scratchy guitar riffs, the driving drums. There’s folk when everything cuts out and it feels like McMahon has climbed into the passenger seat to tell you how she’s hurting. She shouts, she whispers, she lets the backing tracks speak for themselves. It’s not an album that begs for attention – not until you find yourself unable to turn it off. 

The days are short and dim right now, which makes this the perfect album for these long months. “Saturn Returning” opens with a kindness: “Baby, I forgive ya, angel in the mirror,” and never lets us forget that feeling, even in its darkest moments. She sings “I got real low on Serotonin,” in the aptly-named track, but follows this up with “I will dance at the same time as breakfast / I will schedule my friends in.” Haven’t we all taken these brief joys, even as the world tries to hold us down? 

Melancholy is too light a word for this. It’s sad music, but only in the way that everyone feels down at some point. It’s happy music, but only in the way that promises darker days ahead. It’s hopeful music. In this mode, the last track is called “Making it through,” and that’s mostly all you need to know. The closing words? 

“Light again.”

Next time you put your headphones on, maybe feel a little bummed out, maybe you’re reeling after a breakup or maybe you just want the shivers only good music can give you, reach for “Light, Dark, Light Again”.