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Album Review: Lower Dens – Escape from Evil

2 min read

Baltimore-based band Lower Dens’s ominously titled third album may seem designed to grab the attention of listeners. After all, there is much evil in this world.

Lower DensDespite the best efforts of frontwoman Jana Hunter, the songs aren’t enough to get listeners to go on an escapade from their worries.

Sucker’s Shangri-La is an airy, trippy opener with a full band sound of reverberating guitars and plucked bass/piano hybrid. Hunter’s dreamy vocals send listeners into a trance, almost a sleep-inducing stupor so this track does take some time to grow on listeners.

The mysterious Ondine recalls a bit of Kim Carnes’ 1980s synth cover of Bette Davis Eyes, with its drooping synth bass, carefree guitar licks and Hunter sounding as if she couldn’t care any less. Listeners can however shut their eyes and drift away into nothingness, and that’s not a bad thing.

The pop bliss that is To Die in L.A. is worthy of its single status, sounding as if The Drums moved to the West Coast and lead singer Jonathan Pierce had a sex change. Its sunny analog synths run along with a strong pulse, as it becomes apparent that Hunter’s deep, cool alto is more akin to that of Fleetwood Mac songwriter/keyboardist Christine McVie. Quo Vadis nonchalantly maintains a slight disco bounce imbued with swirling colours, with the DIY-post-punk precision of Joy Division.

The remainder of Escape From Evil unfortunately suffers a dip in quality. Your Heart Still Beating sounds atmospheric, but after its ‘never again’ choruses, listeners may think ‘is that it?’. There are long gaps between lyrical lines.

Electric Current chills with its colder synths and unsympathetic drums, but its melody simply undulates over repetitive licks whereas the murky, slower I Am The Earth meanders. Non Grata is Heart of Glass without the spunk, and the initially gritty Company descends into a psychedelic mess as a cacophony of voices ruins the laidback vibe. Ironically, closer Société Anonyme (which is French for limited company and sounds like the opposite of the penultimate track) is more interesting in its approach. It feels fresh, ending the album on a hopeful, exciting note all the way to its concluding, hollow bass and drum section.

Lower Dens’s latest album isn’t the escape from trouble that listeners may be looking for, but there are certainly moments of fun where the music manages to captivate and entertain.