Northern Lights

by: Zeds Dead

Northern Lights, the debut full-length from Toronto duo Zeds Dead, is a moody journey through atmospherics. Bucking the attention-deficit EDM trend, Northern Lights is a true album experience, with enough peaks and valleys to justify a start-to-finish listen. The pair -- Dylan Mamid and Zachary Rapp-Rovan -- peppers some big moments throughout the softly textured haze, effectively utilizing each of the many guest musicians. The rap tracks are the true standouts. Fans of their work with Omar LinX will relish appearances by Styles P and Jadakiss on the aggressively menacing "DNA," Pusha T's jaunty duet with Weezer's Rivers Cuomo on "Too Young," and British rapper Ghetts' full assault of grime-and-bass on "Already Done." Elsewhere, standard festival EDM bangers make their required appearances in the form of collaborations with Diplo and Elliphant ("Blame") and NGHTMRE and GG Magree ("Frontlines"). They're fun, but nothing that hasn't been heard before. Also of note is the crushing drum'n'bass moment -- one of the three tracks credited solely to Zeds Dead -- "Me No Care," which is the sound of the Prodigy bursting through Roni Size. Beneath the booming bass, hypnotic moments like "Lights Out," "This Is Me," "Where Did That Go," and beautifully soulful offerings from Twin Shadow ("Stardust" and "Loneliness") transform Northern Lights into a more nourishing and rewarding listen. Once the propulsive body-movers subside, it's these hazy highlights that warrant further exploration. Buoyed by the strength of the guest artists and those explorative tangents, Northern Lights manages to be an enjoyable, well-intentioned debut album with a handful of worthwhile ideas. ~ Neil Z. Yeung

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