Daring Haynes' Sophe Lux 

"Waking the Mystics"
Sophe Lux
Zarathustra Records
4 stars

Creativity runs in the Haynes family.

Todd Haynes is the maverick director of such films as “Velvet Goldmine,” and his little sister, Gwynneth, is the brains behind the theatrical rock band Sophe Lux.

Like the progenitors of the form, Queen, and the torchbearers of today, The Decemberists, this Portland, Ore., group isn’t afraid to add pageantry and spectacle to its music. Its second CD, “Waking the Mystics,” is so layered and heavily orchestrated that it’s simply too much to absorb in one listen. The ostentatious display may seem overdone at first but reveals more of its genius each time.

Like any touchstone of quality, you never can tell where Sophe Lux is going, which is the same thing with Haynes, who is as vocally dexterous as they come. She provides the dramatics on “Lonely Girl” and leads the show-stopping “God Doesn’t Take American Express,” which could be the climaxing number in a Broadway show.

But Haynes can also be quite elegant and pensive, as can her music. “Time of Light” starts off piano blue before turning Fleetwood Mac-lite with horns. The lush “String Theory” is downright celestial, only to abruptly pump the volume to stadium levels. Other tracks are in their own categories, like the robotically voiced “Stella” and the seesawing rock opera “Marie Antoinette Robot 2073” that’s spackled with futuristic sounds.

Combining music that never goes for easy hooks with equally deep lyricism, “Waking the Mystics” is the kind of effort you wish more artists were daring and adventurous enough to attempt.

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