Label: Easy Life
In an era where British alternative rock albums seem to aspire solely to be as catchy and well-produced as possible, Lower Than Atlantis seem dead on course for arena success. There’s no denying that their fifth LP Safe in Sound achieves everything it was probably intended to with flying colours. It is incredibly catchy – the vocal hooks are relentless, with beats and guitar parts arranged around them perfectly. The attention to detail in the songwriting and production is incredible. But for all its thickly layered guitars and electronics, flashy drum fills and endless half-time choruses, there’s no escaping that Lower Than Atlantis are only really polishing pop rock cliches to an instinctive smudge.
Mike Duce’s vocals and melodies are delivered with the precision of a craftsman, but all sound familiar – at times they recall the eras of bands like Feeder (Comfort in Sound, anyone?) and Kaiser Chiefs, a lot of the time they sound very much like the current Kerrang!-approved bubble. Across the stretch of the LP, his lack of distinct character is gratingly unsatisfying. When they throw in a big meaty riff on a track like ‘Work For It’, it sounds as every bit as huge and arena-filling as it needs to, but feels about as processed as a chicken roll and as artistically compelling as Damien Hirst selling slices of his pickled shark.
‘Could Be Worse’ has a lovely twinkly riff straight from the emo/math-rock playbook. But the album’s sixth soaring chorus in as many songs is bland to the point of insipidness (“when nothing’s going your way / just remember these words / yeah it could be way worse”). From there, there are more synths, more hooks, and some truly sickeningly sweet strings. Calling this album a failure would be to ignore its obvious intended purpose. Calling it a success would ignore how little it offers beyond that.
Long Time Coming
Work For It
Could Be Worse
I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore
A Night To Forget
Words by Joe Gilbertson @beekeepxr