‘All Directions’, the sixth track on Son Lux’s latest album, Brighter Wounds, is essentially a microcosm of the record as a whole. A blurring of avant-garde percussion with more straightforward balladry, it’s a song that - as its name suggests - is being pulled in all directions. At times it works, as seen during the track’s opening, where the off kilter percussion seamlessly morphs into a mournful piano-led piece with pitch-shifted vocals. But at other times it struggles to reconcile the incongruous elements that the band are pulling together. It means that despite a strong opening, the second half of the track feels messy and directionless. Scattered percussion drowns out a beautiful string melody, whilst the introduction of yet more instruments yields not the rousing end the band perhaps intended, but a formless noise that elicits no emotion or meaning.

This isn’t to say that Brighter Wounds is a bad album, more that it is an inconsistent one. There are plenty of moments on here worthy of your time and show what is possible when Son Lux is willing to take risks and play with expectations. ‘Surrounded’ is one of the standouts, a haunting, propulsive track that focuses in on the tense, polyrhythmic percussion of Ian Chang. Respite is offered by a few brief moments of piano and vocals, but the whole track twists itself further and further until it’s almost unrecognisable, ending more akin to an industrial dance track.

Where Brighter Wounds works best is when the band shows an element of restraint. Whilst this might seem like an odd description for a track like ‘The Fool You Need’, there’s a sense of focus and progression that carries the listener through this off-beat wonder. There are a lot of elements in operation here, clipped horns, sawtooth synth bass, a beautifully sad guitar riff, and a complex percussive rhythm, but none of them feel like they are in competition with one another. The horns occupy the gaps between Lott’s lyrics, whilst the guitar melody is allowed room to shine on its own.

At the other end of the spectrum is ‘Dream State’, the album’s musical nadir - a sub-M83 style track that neither earns, nor nails its overly bombastic presentation. It’s not that the band can’t do big moments, in fact the preceding track (and album opener) ‘Forty Screams’ shows exactly how to do this right. It’s slow build of synthesisers and Ryan Lott’s mournful vocals, is punctuated by earth shattering percussion and bass that’s shocking and affecting in equal measure. It’s a complex, ominous track that reflects the song’s (and the wider album’s) duality. Whilst Lott himself became a father, he watched as the world his child entered edged closer to chaos.

Perhaps ‘Dream State’ would have worked better elsewhere on the album. The record’s closing track, ‘Resurrection’, adopts a similarly bold sound, replete with choral voices and callbacks to the chorus of ‘Dream State’. Whilst it does take longer to build to its euphoric peaks, it feels like a culmination of of everything that has come before. ‘Resurrection’ offers hope for new beginnings, even if that hope is sometimes obscured by second-guessing oneself. In a sense it makes for the ideal end to the darkness and introspection of Brighter Wounds an exhilarating finale of strings and voices calling out together - a suggestion that even in our darkest moments we aren’t alone.