The Competition

Lower Dens - The Competition
Critic Score
Based on 15 reviews
2019 Ratings: #461 / 757
User Score
Based on 59 ratings
2019 Ratings: #854
September 6, 2019 / Release Date
LP / Format
Ribbon / Label
Synthpop, Art Pop / Genres
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Hunter and the rest of the band have crafted an effortless listen, one that sees them return with new insights without ever getting heavy-handed: Music for making bitter pills easier to swallow.

The Line of Best Fit

The Competition proves a multi-layered offering from the two-piece, juxtaposing viscerally relevant themes with modulating, often overpowering soundscapes. It's volatile, beguiling stuff, and utterly distinctive.

Northern Transmissions

The Competition is definitely a record to sit with for awhile, deciphering Hunter’s lyrics and settling into the songs frenetic production.

Slant Magazine

The Competition uses the aesthetics of the ‘80s dance floor to try to understand the rising tide of global nationalism. That makes it an easy listen despite its divisive subject matter.


It's a different beast from their earlier iterations, but a compelling remodeling with interlocking layers of both sound and cultural critique.

No Ripcord

Whereas Evil sounded like an attempt to wring pathos out of joyous pastiche, The Competition feels like the true metamorphosis of Hunter's life into art—both in sound and subject matter.


Whilst their fourth LP peters out a little in its second half, it’s an album that places them firmly ahead of ‘The Competition’.

The 405

The music, like the topics and lyrics, doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s solidly rendered and hard to find moments to knock. On the flip side, it’s also hard to find moments that deliver as much as the way they’d like them to, and they occasionally get in their own way.


The Baltimore synth-pop band’s latest might be their most explicitly political and theoretical work, tackling nothing less than the socio-psychological ravages of capitalism.


The Competition may be Lower Dens' most accessible album, but its best moments come when the band slow down and strips back their sound.

The Skinny

The Competition lays out a retrograded yet futuristic world to comment on modern society, dealing in political and gender identities at a time where these discussions have never been more prominent.

Lower Dens is an underrated band from the same Baltimore scene that produced Beach House, Future Islands, and Wye Oak. And honestly, imagining a combination of those three bands doesn’t leave you all that far from Lower Dens’ sound. It’s dreamy and mysterious pop rock propelled by shimmery guitar lines and Jana Hunter’s husky, androgynous vocals. Fortunately Lower Dens are like their Baltimore peers in that they also know how to cut through the fog with an anthemic ... read more
Un álbum muy disfrutable en su totalidad con buena producción muy buen uso del tono-ritmo para jugar con las armonías de las melodías, este es el álbum mejor producido de lower dens por mucho aunque en vocales se queda muy corto y en cuestión lírica igual no llega a transmitir su mensajes de identidad y de las relaciones tóxicas o bueno al menos eso pude yo interpretar. En fin es un álbum muy bueno para pasar el rato muy enganchante ... read more

Galapagos (6.8)
Hand of God (8.0)
Two Faced Love (7.4)
Young Republicans (7.2)
Real Thing (6.8)
Buster Keaton (6.5)
I Drive (8.3)
Simple Life (7.5)
Empire Sundown (7.0)
Lucky People (7.4)
In Your House (7.0)
Lower Dens on “The Competition” may have a sleek new sound and more of a love of 80’s Synths than ever, as well as a few really great ideas. But between heartless ballads and trying to do so much with so little, I end up pining for the old days of this band.

Give A Listen To: "Galapagos", "Two Faced Love", "I Drive", "Simple Life”

Least Favorite Track: "In Your House"

Genre: Synth Pop
Lower Dens have slowly been embracing more of a pop influence over their past few albums, and now it's paid off in full on The Competition. The beats are a lot of fun on the surface, adding glitzier synths and more upbeat rhythms on the whole. This change to a more exciting sound could've resulted in vapid songs with no replayability, but Jana Hunter's writing and singing still have that knack for meditation that made earlier Lower Dens songs memorable. Jana seems more free here than they've ... read more
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Year End Lists

#70/Under the Radar

Track List

  1. Galapagos
  2. Hand of God
  3. Two Faced Love
  4. Young Republicans
  5. Real Thing
  6. Buster Keaton
  7. I Drive
  8. Simple Life
  9. Empire Sundown
  10. Lucky People
  11. In Your House
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Added on: May 30, 2019