Artist: Lower Than Atlantis
Album: World Record
Label: Wolf At Your Door
I find it amusing that on Lower Than Atlantis’ Facebook page, they’ve written “playing sad songs fast since 2007” because there’s not much in the way of dynamism here. It’s fairly standard rock in that there’s nothing too bad, yet nothing too exceptional – ultimately, it’s generally decent and capable in the musical sector but let down badly by uninspired and dreary vocals.
To illustrate, (“Motor)Way of Life” bursts into life all reckless abandon and intent, but grinds to a halt when the singing starts. Somehow, it seems to slow matters down – be this intentional, or the result of a poorly-sketched vocal line, I can’t tell. Either way, it doesn’t do much to inspire confidence early on. “High At Five” and “Uni 9mm” are further illustrations of this – both are flashy, concerted efforts on the part of the band, but there’s a tangible lack of punch, a finishing gloss if you will. As a result, the songs become languid and a touch dull.
“Another Sad Song” is exactly what it claims to be. It moves along at a turgid pace, reflecting, weeping almost in its lilting guitar over what has gone before. There’s not enough basic material in the song to make it affecting – another instrument or even just a slightly faster tempo might have aided it – although the plaintive, tender melody may find some responsive listeners.
It feels churlish to say this, but the record seems a tad…amateurish. Considering the glimpses of merit on display, I can’t quite figure out why it comes out sounding so fragmented and patchy, as though poorly stitched together with disinterested fingers.
However, the record picks up noticeably in its second half. The series of tracks which follow “Another Sad Song” are more concerted and engaging, and demonstrate what the band are actually capable of.
“Marilyn’s Mansion” sets this upturn in motion, because it has some flair to it. It’s the first song on the record with a visible sense of urgency about it. It is quite short, so the effect doesn’t last long, but it is a promising sign of a more fully realized sound and something they could be if they put their minds to it. “Deadliest Catch” is similarly a tad more promising. The vocals aren’t as exasperating as they are elsewhere, and the song is energetic with some vociferous refrains. “Bug” is another short burst of vivacity and enthusiasm. There are gang vocals, which pick it up even more, adding the much-needed slick of finery and complementing a resounding guitar solo.
“Could You? Would You?” exposes a slick bass line and uses it to ground a decent, ambitious song. The vocal harmonies and neatly distorted solo help to eliminate much of the banality that characterizes the album. It’s still quite basic and it won’t exactly blow your mind, but it is perhaps evidence, as elsewhere, of a better effort trying to break through.
“Working For The Man By Day, Sticking It To The Man By Night” is a ludicrously gaudy title but happily, a decent song. “R.O.I.” finishes things unspectacularly, the hint of intensity and vigor in the music not matched in the warbling singing. The mismatched vocal interplay at the end is somewhat off-putting, but the structure and composition are tight.
World Record doesn’t quite live up to its ambitious title. It has plans, but it never quite follows through. As a result, one can never really lift it beyond the basic descriptions – it’s always OK, occasionally good, but never excels. Certain songs are a lot more interesting than others, and it’s worth a listen if only for the technicalities. Next time however, they’d do well to orchestrate a controlled explosion of pizzazz, and they might ascend above the ordinary.
Review written by: Grace Duffy
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