New album from Lower Dens, that features a sound that maintains the cold distance of their earlier work whilst also somehow feeling warmer. Single ‘To Die In L.A.’ sets the tone with a beautiful melody and arrangements sweeping around Jana Hunter’s gorgeously stark voice. Escape From Evil is released by Ribbon Music.
7/10 Hayley Staff review, 02 April 2015
After listening to Lower Dens’ 2010 debut Twin Hand Movement and its 2012 follow-up Nootropics, the Baltimore 4-piece’s latest offering Escape From Evil sounds comparatively jovial. Here, lead songwriter and guitarist, Jana Hunter, marries her reverence for pop with despondent, underlining themes of depressions, longing and love. The results of which are a pleasantly confusing hybrid of lyrical gloom and cheery use of polished 1980's pop.
It’s this contrast that makes Escape From Evil a truly captivating listen; these dark subject matters combined with more chipper soundscapes aren’t exactly anything new, but Hunter’s rich, alto voice resonates and brilliantly shines through shimmering synths and trembling guitar riffs. It’s a quality that stands out most here, unlike previous albums where there was more of an instrumental focus. It’s a welcomed departure, however.
Hunter’s vocals often share an eerie likeness with Annie Lennox’s, while the soft, electronic explorations are sometimes reminiscent of Beach House’s combination of woozy atmospherics and distinct vocals. Where this album prevails less, however, is in its polished production and unchanging quality. A lot of the songs here flow at a similar pace and, ultimately, sound very similar to one another. The dark idiosyncrasies of the band’s debut are slightly eschewed here in favour of something more FM friendly, and in doing so, they’ve made some of their most accessible music to date. Still, there are enough tricks here to warrant repeated listens, and it’s certainly worthy of your time.
Escape From Evil is cohesive and well-wrought but, essentially, a little too same-y at times. It might verge on too slick for my tastes, but there’s no doubt that Escape From Evil’s glacial sheen will enamour fans of the band’s previous work.
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- Escape From Evil by Lower Dens
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