Eliot Krimsky holds a little galaxy around himself. He’s one of those songwriters that carries the mythology of a revolving band of urban bohemians, musicians that drift in and out of his creative space, lending their instruments or their voice to the music he puts together as Glass Ghost. On his second album, LYFE, Krimsky again borrows drummer Mike Johnson from the Dirty Projectors, in addition to a host of other characters from bands like Hospitality. He himself does double duty with Here We Go Magic, but LYFE doesn’t sound like the sound of #Brooklyn summed up and averaged out. Krimsky has the quirk and charm to work songs called “Life is for the Living” even in a city atmosphere that tends to run thick with death.
Glass Ghost’s production is denser than it appears on first listen, mostly because the lacework spread below Krimsky’s voice coalesces so neatly. Pick it apart and you’ll find funk bass slaps, sampled squawks, and glinting synth arpeggios; draw yourself back up, and the disparate elements fold into a single effervescent hammock, an autonomous ecosystem of sound for Krimsky to coast with his thin, nasal tenor. His voice is the most idiosyncratic part of the whole spread, but it finds plenty of odd angles to bounce off of. The moving parts around him complement his weirdness and fold it into a larger whole.
Unlike his pals the Dirty Projectors, Krimsky doesn’t concern himself with high drama dynamics or snap-and-release song structures. He’s more interested in the swell, the blooming that happens when you feed a whole bouquet of genre signifiers into the same vein at once. “Triangle” and “Unidentified” float to a feel-good high on layers of horns, flutes, and cascading backup vocals, a more straightforwardly angelic analog to the Flaming Lips at their life-affirming peaks.
But Glass Ghost doesn’t go anywhere but up. Even LYFE‘s more downtempo cuts, like “American Dollar” or “Traveling With You”, glide on breezes of strings and piano before erupting skyward. These moments feel triumphant, but there’s no real counterweight to them, little to indicate what exactly Krimsky is triumphing over. The closest the album comes to balancing out its furious optimism comes in the vocoder-heavy “Wait A Second”, which hints at menace with spiky electronic textures. “Something is growing between his heart and his home,” repeats Krimsky, his voice dipping in and out of effects. The danger, if there is any beyond a general sense of detachment, stays vague.
LYFE is generous with both its ornamentations and its encouragements (“The sunlight is your friend,” Krimsky assures on “Walls”), but it doesn’t take many risks or settle on many specifics. Unlike its siblings from the Flaming Lips and Cloud Cult, the album doesn’t engage with acute trauma—if it’s meant to work as a balm, I’m not sure what it’s trying to heal me from. It’s gentle and it’s positive, the sort of thing that can fill air just like sunlight. But it’s rarely more than weather.