The meteroic rise of Lower Than Atlantis has certainly not been ill-deserved. With last year’s ‘World Record’ putting them at the top of the British rock heap, a deal with major label giants Island Records quickly followed, marking a definite turning point for the band. With their sound already consistently blunted with each release, it would be fair to anticipate an even more drastic shift towards the mainstream with ‘Changing Tune’ and its new commercial backing. And, the reality of the record does indeed somewhat confirm this, with dissapointingly lacklustre results.
With a previously lacking studio sheen and polish, the album sounds undeniably impeccible, giving the tracks a slightly more refined gloss which, whilst not essential by any means, certainly sounds impressive. The issue is that the songwriting here, and indeed the flow of the album, settles so quickly into an unremarkable formulaic slog that we find ourselves with little to clig onto.
Opener ‘Prologue’ begins intriguingly enough with some understated acoustic work and gentle distortion swells, yet quickly hammers into the standard mid-tempo rocker, and from here on out we stumble through a glut of rather tired sounding numbers which confusingly lack the band’s trademark personality and chrisma. Listening to tracks such as ‘Move Along’ and ‘Go On Strike’, proceedings become so interchangable that, even with token ballad ‘Scared Of The Dark’ dropping the pace briefly, tedium rapidly digs its claws in.
Occasional glimpses of variation do shine through however, such as the bass heavy dirge of ‘Normally Strange’ and ‘War With Words’ percussion led swing, yet unfortunatley on repeated listens it becomes somewhat of a struggle to pick of any stand out moments, be it a chorus hook or memorable riff.
It’s a shame, and little baffling, that an outfit with such established talent and a knack for churning out charmingly tuneful songs could deliver a release such as ‘Changing Tune’, bereft of dynamism or zest. Perhaps working within a larger framework has exposed the band’s shortcomings or dented their craft with a new found pressure, but the fact remains that the album falls short at a time when Lower Than Atlantis needed a home run.
Written by Tony Bliss
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.