Lower Than Atlantis - Changing Tune

Eighteen months ago, touring second album World Record, they were energised but ordinary. But at this year’s Reading Festival, Lower Than Atlantis delivered a set both committed and capable. Some of us still bear the bruises. Now, as their live show sharpens up, here’s album number three and it’s a corker. Afforded, for the first time, the freedom to record at their own pace, leader Mike Duce gets to showcase his songwriting amidst shinier production and fuller arrangements. Snipers can go hang. Duce may well sport a Sonic Youth t-shirt and routinely cover The Smashing Pumpkins but his gift, and stock-in-trade, is for the pop song, not alt.noise terrorism. The likes of ‘Cool Kids’ and ‘Wars With Words’ are archetypal Lower Than Atlantis - huge, rumbling anthems, muscular but smart. The pace is largely relentless but there are enough subtle changes in focus and approach to engage throughout. The playing is never off the money.

Pointers? It doesn’t sag particularly, but the candour Duce demonstrates on the fragile ballad ‘Scared Of The Dark’ is sometimes in danger of spreading itself a bit thin. The closing ‘Showtime’ is an altogether too microscopic examination of a one-sided friendship for it to mean too much to the listener (but, by god, the person in question must be wincing.) Oh, and storming recent single ‘If The World Was To End’ is notable by its absence, though at least it’s been left off with good intentions. “It's just a standalone thing,” says Duce. “We thought about putting it on there, but the songs we've got are really strong." Dead right.

Overall

7

out of 10

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