This could be the album that makes their career. Could be.
Four-piece rock band Lower Than Atlantis have come an awful long way since their debut full-length album Far Q (2010) – an incredibly shouty and angry record. In fact, if you were to listen to new record Safe In Sound after listening to Far Q, you would never have guessed it was the same band. Nevertheless, after a successful campaign of their 2014 self-titled album – which even won RockSound’s Album of the Year that year – the Watford boys are back with an album that could propel them nearer the top of festival line-ups and the world’s biggest stages.
For a lot of the ‘Lower Than Fam’ there was one thing wanted from this album: heavy. Despite being very well received, the self-titled album saw thrashing guitars replaced with electro-pop effects; power replaced with polish. Safe In Sound album opener ‘Had Enough’ certainly would have got hopes up. A fuzzy opening riff followed by crashing trademark Eddy Thrower drums makes for a heavy, head-banging beginning to the album. Tame verses which build to the rip-roaring chorus – you can almost perfectly envision the pits being opened and exploding through Mike Duce’s warning ‘the smile on my face is fake, and the vein on my head suggests you get running, I’ve had enough, had enough.’
However from here on in, it is the album that many people feared. In many ways, their first single from the album ‘Work For It’ is a perfect microcosm for the album: optimism with a seething, thumping opening – but ultimately disappointment with what is essentially a pop song on steroids. ‘Work For It’ rings through with ‘woah, you know-woah, you gotta work for it’ as its message – a bubblegum message suitable for what is an undeniably cheesy song.
Perhaps this should have been expected from the other two tracks revealed to the public before the album’s release on February 3rd of this year. ‘Dumb’ was released as in the form of a 360° video on social media, which despite still being undeniably pop-rock, is a catchy, sing-a-long song – the kind of song you will find yourself impulsively nodding and singing to during your morning commute to work. However, the last song they teased before the album, ‘Boomerang’, is perhaps the most disappointing album on the song. It is a filler at best. Filled with background sound effects and layer upon layer of vocal harmonies, the song just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Even after a lengthy instrumental after the second repetition of a dull, repetitive chorus and hope of a strong finish with the instruments and layers seemingly building to a crescendo… we are brought straight back to the same frustrating chorus. Wonderful.
I mean, it’s not all awful. Mike Duce announced via Twitter during the recording of the album that he had been taking singing lessons, and this is more than noticeable. In feel good song ‘I Would’ (still pop-rock, that doesn’t change) we are treated to an uncharacteristic, uplifting high note to bring a relatable Mike Duce love song to a close. Duce also displays his newfound flawless falsetto in the bridge of ‘Long Time Coming’ – really proving that the lessons paid off. However, as impressive as this transformation is, it misses some of the rough-edged charm that his vocals have provided in previous albums. Everyone loves a raspy rock voice, and unfortunately for those who favour the heavier LTA, this seems to be being faded out.
However, there is one silver lining for LTA fans new and old, and it comes in the form of ‘I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore’. Finally, FINALLY, they have hit us with another heart-wrenching, sorrowful song – the first since World Record’s ‘Another Sad Song’. Since World Record’s release, ‘Another Sad Song’ has been the song LTA fans look forward to the most when seeing them live – belting out with bursting lungs the self-pitying lyrics. Now, ‘I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore’ threatens to take over this particular place on the set-list. The slow, soft opening of the guitar is greeted by haunting, dry vocals, which leaves the listener enchanted, almost as though you are the fly on the wall of an angsty, teenage Duce’s bedroom. It is the definition of a song you would instantly turn to when you are down and inconsolable, just to know you aren’t alone in the way you are feeling, captured in the harrowing lyric ‘sometimes I wish I was never born, I don’t want to be here anymore.’
Could this be the album that makes their career? I doubt it. The LTA fans were anticipating a return to those rocky vocals and forceful, overdrive guitars, but they just have not quite delivered. It is understandable that the boys have gone for this more poppy sound in an attempt to crack into the mainstream – however in doing so they are risking losing the charm which saw them gain popularity in the first place – particularly evident in empty songs on the album such as ‘Money’ which is a very forgettable song. All in all, this album is worth the listen. Lyrically this album is as enjoyable as ever, and Dec Hart’s bass lines never fail to grab attention. If you are part of the new wave of LTA fans, this may be your cup of tea – same goes for general teenage pop-rock fans. However, for those expecting to pick up an exceptional modern rock album – or a return to the heavier LTA of old – do not get your hopes up too high.
Available on iTunes for £7.99
CD, Vinyl and more available at http://www.lowerthanatlantis.co