Lower Dens - The Competition
Sep 6, 2019 (updated Sep 8, 2019)
75
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 course when the moment is right. That’s especially true on The Competition, which uses a heavier dose of synthesizers than usual and clears out more space for Hunter’s singing, making this more of a ‘pop’ album than their previous efforts. Hunter uses that extra clarity to deliver revealing lyrics. “Young Republicans” delivers a scathing rebuke to those who count their dollars while the world burns, but does so with a galvanic best and some ear-popping harmonies that make it one of the years best singles. “Real Thing” is a postmodern doo-wop torch song from a wife who can’t help but wander from her man. Her blunt justification - “I just love to get out and get it on / and I don’t care about the real thing” - suggests another kind nihilism. If there’s an overarching theme to The Competition, it seems to be a push and pill between the empowering rush of hedonism and the desire to find a deeper meaning in life. While not every song is as distinctive as those highlights, The Competition is a confident record from a band that seems ready for a breakout moment.
1 Comment
Sep 6, 2019
you earned a "follow" from me just on the basis of this review. it makes me happy that somebody else "gets" Lower Dens the way I do. thank you.
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