Watford four-piece punch above their weight on a solid second album.
Raziq Rauf 2011-04-20
Little more than a year after the release of their intriguingly titled first album, Far Q, prolific Watford quartet Lower Than Atlantis have returned with a follow-up. Said debut was a promising slice of largely melodic post-hardcore replete with jagged riffs and vocals that were abrasive for sure, but you could tell the edges had already been sanded down after early comparisons with fellow townsmen Gallows. World Record sees the foursome move towards a grungier sound, with even cleaner vocals.
Opening track, (Motor) Way of Life evokes memories of mid-00s outfits like Hell Is For Heroes, or even Biffy Clyro, with contrasting guitars and vocal harmonies at play. The heavyweight riffs of Beech Like the Tree chug away like a head butt in a handbag, frontman Mike Duce singing his way to centre stage at every turn. Vocally, there are parallels to (bizarrely) be drawn with Kate Nash: Duce’s nasal inflections linger in a similar manner in tracks such as High at Five and Another Sad Song, and his allegories are on a similar level – often painfully sincere. There are moments where you’re certain big salty tears are rolling down his face.
And he sings about what he knows. With topics ranging from the vagaries of life in a band (Uni 9mm, Bug), the difficulties of cigarette addiction (Up in Smoke) and touring (Marilyn’s Mansion, (Motor) Way of Life), this tell-it-like-it-is realism could be the band’s major selling point. Lyrics that are personal enough to the band but that fans can relate to their own lives are invaluable. Hearing a man’s pain expressed so bare, as it is all the way through this album, is something of a contrary heart-warmer.
If there’s a major criticism to be thrown at World Record, it’s that the album is slightly one-paced. Songs with drive seem to get stuck in traffic, and there is little in the way of variety as even the slower songs are never stripped completely bare and last a long time compared to what’s around them. At the same time, it’s important to note that there’s very little poor content to be found here. So even if the aspirations of that title are somewhat out of reach for Lower Than Atlantis, they’re most certainly punching above their weight.