I first heard Lydia last spring, when my old roommate’s girlfriend put on “From a Tire Swing” off of Lydia’s 2013 release Devil, and something about Lydia’s music immediately got me hooked. There wasn’t really a band I could pinpoint that they sounded like, and believe me, I can be bad at pidgeon-holing a band’s sound. After hearing a few songs off of Devil, I found the gem that is Illuminate. It gave me this somber, haunting, but somehow uplifting feeling. It was dark and soft at the same time, and I fell in love. Ever since then, Lydia has been one of my go-to bands when I’m out driving around, winding down at home, or just want to feel like there’s a cool breeze around me.
After I had listened to Run Wild front to back, I was reassured that Lydia is still able to write an amazing and cohesive album, full of feeling and atmosphere. Where Devil is an album of warm, summer breezes and tire swings, Illuminate is the crisp fall air upon your face as you struggle to accept that what was once in full bloom has now faded to a duller palette. Run Wild is the thawing just before spring. It’s still cold and the days are still short, but you can see the grass and flowers peek out from underneath the snow and know that things will grow again.
Run Wild opens up with “When It Gets Dark Out,” a song full of synth and a good dance beat that helps kick off the album with a positive note. I feel like they could have picked a stronger song to set the mood, and the next song “Riverman” does for me what I wish the opener would have. It has a darker, moodier feel to it that helps paint a better picture of the album. However, no song does a better job at blending everything that makes Lydia who they are as “Past Life” does. The string arrangements and breaks between verses are reminiscent of Illuminate, specifically “Hospital.” However, it picks up into a poppy chorus, reminding me of their newer material. If I had to pick my favorite song on the album, it would be difficult but it would probably have to be “Past Life.” It just contains the most natural blend of dynamics that Lydia can bring to the table, picking things up and slowing them back down in a flow of emotion.
Lydia has always been good at using their lyrics to paint a picture, set a mood, and give the listener a setting to play out the little stories they’re trying to tell with each song. “Outside it’s frozen still and I don’t have any plans to leave yet,” the lyrics from “Coffee Drips” echo the mood of Run Wild perfectly. Your mind pulls you away to a little cabin in the woods, waking up late in the morning with your partner by your side and not wanting to leave to face the world outside. You’ve both been through dark times but you’re still here to tell about it. Instead, you just peer through the window knowing you’re safe inside as the smell of coffee fills the room.
Overall, Run Wild shows well what Lydia can still do as songwriters, eight years after Illuminate was new to everyone’s ears. Honestly, Illuminate is still my favorite album by the band, but Run Wild might be finding its way into the top two slot, right before Devil. It’s catchy, fluid, and like any good Lydia album should, it acts as a canvas. The songs are the colors to paint a landscape. In this landscape, you find yourself making up a story to go along with the lyrics Leighton sings. I would highly recommend this album for any Lydia fan, old or new alike. 8.5/10