[sic] Magazine

Lower Dens – Escape From Evil

Reviewed by Jonathan Levitt

There must be a moment in everyone’s life where the music you listened to at a formative stage of your life, is embraced by a younger generation who then serve it up a second time for your appraisal.

Lower Dens have with their latest record managed to revive elements of new wave that sound quite fresh and yet reverent to the sounds of 30 years ago.

All those years of New Order and Depressed Mood (Depeche Mode) didn’t go to waste after all, preparing me for a future where they would be referenced by a new group of kids that found a beauty in their isolationist stare.

‘Quo Vadis’ is a tad Kraftwerk with its heavy synth sound. The guitar sounds a bit Chameleons-like I can hear Reg Smithies delay pedal was a major influence on the band here.

‘Your Heart Still Beating’ starts off with a Kepler synth tone speeding up to a danceable level with heart on sleeve synths mixed with a bit of early U2’ish guitar. It’s a rather pensive number that has that mid 80’s Thatcherite sense of decay about it. Imagine a rose growing from a crack in the brick wall of some faceless part of London or Baltimore as may be the case. This is what is impressive about this band is that they not only get the references right but the production and the cold patina of an era that for a good portion of young Brits and Americans was highly politicized in the shadow of the end of the cold war.

The track ‘Non Grata’ finds you in a smoke filled dank subterranean club, where the music is blistering loud, and through the stench of Drakar noir, and clove cigarette smoke you make your way to the bar and order a crap well drink.

‘Sucker’s Shangrila’ is heavily influenced by don’t forget about me era Simple Minds and Flock of Seagulls. You may think with such high profile staples of the 80’s as reference could the band be treading on dangerous ground. Thankfully as with the rest of the record they sidestep being mere copyists and stamping their own mark on the music in unique ways. The singer is excellent and able to hit the high notes full of emotion that reverberates perfectly pitched on the edge of androgyny.

My knowledge of Baltimore comes from the show The Wire and a former heroin addicted friend. My take on the city is that it’s a bleak place to grow up filled with memories of better times and with a massive portion of the population praying for a dream in sight of Washington DC and all that, that means. I can sense an insular quality to the music on ‘Escape from Evil’. Maybe it’s the only way the band can survive the reality of where they live wishing themselves into another era. What evil then are we escaping? Maybe it’s not so much an escape but more of a rejection of modern musical movements. After all there is only so much you can take of a world where the Foo Fighters and Justin Bieber fight over fans. Distilling the finest moments of a decade, a year, a month, and a moment in time Lower Dens offer up the perfect antidote to a musical world that seems caught in a malaise. The doctor will see you now.

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