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Drawing its dark pop power from '80s-era bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and Bauhaus, New York City trio Judith deftly encapsulates life's unpleasantness through equal measures of self-reflection and melodrama. From the title track, with its gray-London-sky textures looming over a somber soundscape, Play of Light embraces all things theatrical.

"Without a miracle, does God exist?" asks vocalist/guitarist Christopher David on "Dissolution," his baritone setting the stage for an album in which, except for the title itself, little light either enters or escapes. What dim radiance there is seeps in through sullen synthesizers, which cast a rainy cloud over songs like "La Bella" and "Fields of Green." On the latter track, David continues on his quest to find answers to life's eternal ponderings: "I gaze over fields of green/And wish for the innocence of youth/Remembering all I have seen/In my search for the final truth." The heavier "Seeing Sun" starts off with chiming pianos before taking a downward spiral toward a puddle of Type O Negative, with booming pipes and hell-bound guitars that seem to fall further and further down a pit of sorrow with each passing chord. Damian James's bass lines on "Switchblade" and "Willow" round out acoustic passages that lead to darkened corridors. In the end, Play of Light leaves behind a sense of loneliness but not a hint of despair.

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Omar Perez

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