If you don’t know Lower Than Atlantis for their stand-out track Another Sad Song, you probably know Mike Duce and co. for their hard-hitting accessible rock edge and the tight lyricism that comes with it; of those two features, one and a half have made it into the new record. It’s been no secret that this was a record made with the intention of pushing above and beyond what they had previously created, the frontman stating, “there’s only so far you can go with four blokes playing guitars, bass and drums, and now was the time to do whatever we wanted.”
If there’s anyone disappointed in the band’s new sound, there can be no reason for that other than hoping the quartet would stick to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stance. Whilst being half a world away from Changing Tune, World Record and Far Q, Lower Than Atlantis’s three rockier records, the calibre and creativity of the sound is the same – if not higher. They’re accessible rock in a whole new manner, electronics lining the tracks and hazy openings, making songs you can both dance and rock out to, writing lyrics that boost your mood with the “stick to your guns” attitude.
Here We Go commences the record, and as it was the first track of the twelve to be released, it only seems fair. Premiered on Zane Lowe’s show as his Hottest Record in the World, it’s fiery enough to breathe life into any opener, before Ain’t No Friend of Mine allows light to shine on the new style. You could almost be tricked into thinking it’s not a pure Lower Than Atlantis record, but one with heavy production input from the likes Calvin Harris. The fantastically fuzzed up opening starts the album on a new wavelength, returning to the tried and tested riff in the chorus, with an attitude as comfortable in this as they’ve been before – and it’s remarkable how apt Duce’s voice is to suit this new vibe.
Freedom anthem English Kids In America is a track with the full potential to elicit gang vocals and strobe lighting chaos at live shows; there’s no difficulty is seeing why this was chosen to be released as a single, doubling up with equally addictive Emily. This infectious pair of sing-your-heart-out, feel-good songs are prime examples of the optimism that oozes from the album, and the straightforward, say it like it is style creates opportunities usually overlooked.
The eponymous record covers struggles and judgements the band have faced in a professional as much as a personal sense, with Criminal marking up sharp corners into the sound and delves into the opinions they’ve received by signing to a new label (you can find out more about this in the interview we had with Mike Duce earlier this year). Ironically, this is one of the tracks that strikes up the perfect balance halfway between the extremes of their old and new work.
A simple two note opening of Words Don’t Come So Easily fledges into a powerful and driven track, with the lyricism taking a no holds barred approach to embarrassing moments we’ve all been in – one of the traits that makes this such an accessible record. For its up front honesty, this can be noted as one of the best off the record; although listening to the twelve tracks through I find myself saying that a lot. If you’ve never listened to the band before, this should be the song to get you into their music.
Underlying instrumental of Stays The Same sets the track up for a massive chorus, and successfully delivers. Tight and satisfyingly clean rhymes add a snap to the music, feeding off the originality every track is fuelled by, and making yet another favourite. A backing heavy chorus of Live Slow, Die Old still shows the band know how to rock out, the bridge nodding its head towards the new influence, and the whole thing wrapped in the live-your-life moral, which continues into slightly more withheld Damn Nation, fit to burst its seams.
An opening remarkably similar to that of Blitz Kids’s Sometimes gives way to Time, a track that seems designed spectacularly for a fantastic live show, only marred by the idioms overfilling the verses to pad the piece out. Penultimate Just What You Need seems the perfect song to wind up the record, with a switching, minimalistic backdrop supporting and contrasting the vocals. Flurries of instrumental strung together by reflective sentiment make finale Number One as striking as every other track on the record; it would seem they can do no wrong.
The fans who disapprove of the changed sound need to at least give credit to the sheer energy and force behind the music. Lower Than Atlantis haven’t simply moved to a new style, they’ve redefined themselves and improved beyond recognition.