[sic] Magazine

Lowtide – Southern Mind

Melbourne’s Lowtide explore the full, space-rock spectrum, taking in shoegaze and dream-pop. The band have been gaining traction since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2014. Championed by the likes of KCRW, Rolling Stone and good old BBC 6 Music, the four-piece act have been nominated for the AMP (Australian Music Prize) and the 2016 re-released Lowtide featured in a number of year-end best-lists.

Southern Mind is the band’s highly anticipated follow-up and I have to say, off the bat, it sounds pretty fine to these ears. It’s a bright and breezy affair, sonically. The band utilise the shared ‘boy/girl’ vocal technique that worked so well for the likes of MBV and Slowdive. Founder member, guitarist Gabriel Lewis sounds suitably wan while Lucy Buckeridge (bass) is the surprise element. Her mournful tone puts me in mind of Cocteau Twins. I’m always loathe to compare anybody to the 4AD legends as it is an impossibly high bar. There’s just a hint of Fraser’s ‘yelp and yearn’ in Buckeridge. Behind the voices, guitars ignite and flare like afterburners.

Some of the finest shoegaze tracks were simple melodies buried behind all manner of gorgeous effects. Lowtide pull the same trick, blasting the listener with a wind tunnel of delays, chorus and enough reverb to shunt your living room into a parallel dimension. It isn’t a total exercise in shoegazing though. A lot of Lowtide’s material feels like it is from the mid-Eighties rather than the end of that decade. On ‘Elizabeth Towers’ Lewis goes a bit Banshees/Bunnymen with his Eastern influences. Indeed there is a Goth or post-punk edge to a lot of Southern Mind. ‘On The Fence’ feels like a Guthrie-produced ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ in places and the intro to ‘Alibi’ recalls Kitchens Of Distinction’s soaring ‘Drive That Fast’. Lucy Buckeridge’s bass sound is terrific – a warm, wrought iron thrum that you almost feel before you hear. Fans of Simon’s Gallup and Raymonde will enjoy this record. The only caveat is that the band’s strength could also be their weakness. Great if you’re looking for a lost album from that halcyon era. Maybe less so if you’re after fresh, 21st century originality. Southern Mind found the spot for me though. ‘A.C.’ would be my standout choice. The voices dovetail so well, harmonies flickering like fireflies around a crackling campfire.

There’s life in the old pedal array yet.