Monday, 1 October 2012

Review: Lower Than Atlantis - Changing Tune

 It goes without saying that Hertfordshire quartet Lower Than Atlantis have been feeling the love from certain members of the music press for some time now. Personally, it's taken ages for me to warm to them. Having spent months on end feeling horrified by the moany tone of the voice of frontman Mike Duce, I just haven't been able to bring myself to enjoy them until recently, where it seems that a moany tone of voice is perhaps the perfect thing for a set of brilliantly moany songs. So, what better time to get into them than now, ahead of the release of their third album in three consecutive years (always something that gets you extra praise or extra cynicism depending on what angle you come at it from) Changing Tune? As good a time as any, I suppose.

 Changing Tune undoubtedly screams of boldness everywhere you approach across the album. It's been obvious for some time now that Lower Than Atlantis have been looking to become the new faces on the big league of British rock bands that have kept coming through over the past few years and they put their all to get that message through across this album.

 This undoubtedly means it comes with obvious singles in the form of the current Love Someone Else, a two and a half minute punk rock belter that has been doing the rounds on Scuzz TV after the success of the major  album closer If the World Was to End, complete with a massive "na-na-na" section to let the album go out on a positive vibe became a TV staple just months before. And it's not likely to end there either. With it's array of Foo Fighter-isms in it's abrasive melodies, Something Better Came Along is likely to make it into singles territory along side the irresistibly danceable rhythms put into Showtime and Counting Sheep both works of music that suggest Duce has an understanding on how to make a song with a swagger within them.

 Of course, when you look at the kind of influences heard across Changing Tune, Lower Than Atlantis were never going to be a band with songs that weren't going to be massive. In spite of it's sense of desolation and earthly tones, listening to the main melodies of Move Along sounds akin to something you may have heard from New Found Glory or Sum 41 in their golden age of 2002 only turned more mature. With the grace and ethereal production that song and the grungy chaos of Normally Strange has to offer, there's as much enthusiasm to be found in the same places.

 That's not to say the album is a fully mature process. Hearing Duce's performance and lyrics on the likes of Go On Strike and I Know a Song That Will Get on Your Nerves doesn't suggest britpop as much as it suggests bratpop. Both songs a range of rapidly driven pop punk riffage fueled by Duce's scathing tone that couldn't be anything else but cheeky little drivels of utter fun.

 Of course fun can only last so long and when you're a band like Lower Than Atlantis that deal exclusively in conventionally structured pop rock songs with an average length of two and a half to three minutes, it's asking a bit much to have an album with seventeen tracks on it. By the time we get to Time Flies, we get to a stage of realising that song titles might not always necessarily reflect real life and things start becoming repetitive and un-engaging with only the established single of If the World Was to End saving the album from ending on a low. Even the ska punk rhythms of Short Way Home can't spark any life into the closing sections. Perhaps if the band went the entire ska route for the song and had a solid trumpet backdrop, things may have been different.

 With the exception of the lull that puts the album on a filler-induced downward slope for the end of the album, Changing Tune proves itself to be a solid album of blissful rock songs that show off influences from basically any melodic rock band that first got big in the 1990's. Although don't quote me exactly on that before people begin asking how it's reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails and Limp Bizkit. Perhaps a real challenge of writing an album is to work out when enough is enough and that's something Lower Than Atlantis could have done here, but if the effort of Changing Tune is solid enough to get previous cynics like me to get into the band and get into last year's World Record and 2010's Far Q then something must be going right for them. And who am I to get in the way of a band's success with my impatience?

Lower Than Atlantis' Changing Tune is out now via Universal Island Records. The band are on tour of the UK now with The Dangerous Summer, Don Broco and Gnarwolves.

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