Listening to Lightning Show, the new album from Bird Show (aka Ben Vida), there's a distinct impression that he's allowed much more of a pop influence to seep into his work. Perhaps at least partially inspired by massive amounts of touring (including a large amount with Greg Davis), his newest release finds more vocals and less harsh edges into the mix, making for an a more produced, almost ceremonial sounding release than his debut Green Inferno.
The album starts out with what is easily one of the best tracks on the entire album with "Field On Water," as circular hand-clap percussion, guitar, and bass mingle with fluttering electronics and some trance-inducing vocals from Vida. "Seeds" is somewhat similar, with repetitive, tribal-sounding percussion rushing away under increasingly loud waves of guitar, drones, and all manner of handheld noisemakers.
Vida hasn't completely forsaken his more abstract roots, though, and at times the album gets away from the repetitive electro-acoustic folk patterns and shifts into different gears altogether. "First Path Through" is nearly all electronics, as low, pulsing hums of guitar feedback mingle with higher-end electronic squiggles. "Beautiful Spring" finds the vocals of Vida battling with off-kilter rhythms and heavy blasts of distorted guitar. Both tracks shove the album off course, breaking the flow without adding much of anything you can't get elsewhere.
Fortunately, the album seems to regain footing and finishes out with three excellent tracks. "Greet The Morning" builds with warm guitar and swirling drones that pull the listener in alongside warm vocals while "On The Beach" is even more heady, pushing percussion into the background and soaring upwards before "Sleepers Keep Sleeping" leaves things on a meditative note with multiple layers of chanting vocals and little more than a soft peak in terms of overall progression. Floating somewhere between freak folk, drone, and psych rock, Lightning Ghost is a nice step up in output from Bird Show.