The Western Den - 'A Light Left On'

 The Western Den release their startlingly beautiful debut album, ‘A Light Left On’, revealing 10 huge tracks of orchestral, ethereal, and chordally complex songs.

’A Light Left On’ is comprised of 10 hugely affecting songs that flirt with cinematic, classical, indie folk and alternative influences. But it’s a record so much more than a breakdown of genre influences. Each track is aesthetically pleasing in its own right, seeing the duo split the lead vocalist position on a track by track basis. What makes the record even more beautiful is that The Western Den do not shy away from emotional depth or the “uglier” side of human feelings, instead they create huge, comforting, cathartic, shivering soundscapes to sadder lyrical themes.

Described by the band as “a careful labor of love”, ‘A Light Left On’ was meticulously created over a two year period and you can feel how much time, energy, affection and honesty has gone into creating the record in its entirety. Previous releases ‘I Still Remain’, ‘Spark Set Fire’, ‘Hem’ and new single ‘Like You Do’ are good starting points if you’re reading this as a brand new listener to the band. Album opener ‘Company’ sets the record off spectacularly with its part narrative part instrumental construction, This allows the band to show off how vivid and evocative their orchestral-inspired arrangements are, yet also how skilled they are at creating and delivering strong lyrics that are never overshadowed by the gravity of the instrumentation.

Artifice’ is an interesting track for showing off a more quirky, vintage indie rock/ folk pop sound that almost feels out of place on the record until the duo come together to harmonise on the chorus and the lush familiarity of their sound kicks in. ‘Divider’ also stands out for its differences and teases The Western Den’s listener into the potential that the band may build on their less polished, more peculiar alternative influences as the album closes in its otherworldly soundscape of broken frequencies and almost robotic sound of a system malfunctioning, and the repeated mantra “’m still holding on, still, still I’m holding on“ like the weight of holding on has gotten too heavy, but it’s worth it.

For me, that almost exhausted yet still determined ending to the album is the perfect way to wrap up the turbulent, emotional journey that The Western Den take their listener on throughout the album. It’s a record of deep introspection, heartbreakingly honest, and it is devastatingly strong despite its vulnerabilities. It’s a record awash with affecting textures and movingly crafted lyrics that are so lovely, so real in their sincerity that you feel the ache and longing and love in every word. It is a record intended for self-searching and makes for a solitary listening experience. It’s a record that serves as a reminder that life and purely being human is sometimes difficult, but there’s always a light to come back to, whether it’s inside us or we are guided home by the light of other people, there’s always hope.

Words of Karla Harris