Lower Than Atlantis
Album number four from the Mike Duce-led four piece ditches much of their previous approach in favour of a cleaner and more radio-friendly sound. Mmm. How best to enrage any vaguely alternative act? Accuse them of trying to second-guess the market? Duce's output to date, a literate and personalised repertoire that put songcraft before rawk dynamics, has seen Lower Than Atlantis build a loyal and impassioned following. If you've dared take in their explosive live show from anywhere near the front, you'll no doubt still have the bruises. But Lower Than Atlantis feels like an unjustified mis-step.
The addition of processed beats and synth backing jars, and Duce's voice gets lost. He's a gifted writer, more inclined to small town confessional than fist-pumping collectivism, and much of his work would come to life with just voice and guitar. Here, his talent feels choked by the sugary production. 'Here We Go' and 'Damn Nation' model typical LTA crunch and vitality. But the likes of 'Ain't No Friend' and 'I'm Partying' feel awkwardly compromised. “There’s only so far you can go with four blokes playing guitars, bass and drums,” claims Duce. Beg to differ. In what feels like a bid for broader appeal, they shoot themselves in the foot; the irony being, this one, sadly, is for fans only.