LIGHT POLLUTION Apparitions (Carpark Records)
On first pass, Light Pollution seems to be a misleading name for Chicago songwriter James Michael Cicero’s band. If anything, his music sounds as if it could serve as a foil for that unnatural glow over our urban areas. Rather than enveloping you with hazy atmospherics (though there’s some of that), Apparitions boasts a glimmering, expansive sound, as if Cicero is pulling back the curtain of light pollution and reintroducing us to the majesty of the Milky Way, star by star. And on songs like “Deyci, Right On,” with its dense organ, ambling drum fills, and alien keyboards, you can even see the Dark Side of the Moon. Opener “Good Feelings” unfolds like driving on a highway at night, with the broken line of the center stripe pulsing underfoot and the reflective green signs appearing out of the darkness and flashing briefly in the headlights before receding. Closing track “Ssslowdreamsss,” with its shuffling shoe gaze, may be the most aptly named song I’ve ever heard. And perhaps the band is appropriately titled, as well: one of light pollution’s byproducts is that your sleep cycle is thrown off and you become disoriented. Apparitions often leaves you unsure of exactly what you heard but eager to hear it again.