2012’s ‘Changing Tune’ started Lower Than Atlantis‘ transition from an underground punk-influenced club circuit band to heavily produced major record label pop heavyweights, leaving their new self-titled record as one of the most important milestones of the year for British alternative music. The new revamped LTA haven’t quite worked out a definite direction for the band to exploit and, as a result, the album suffers. Each track isn’t just musically so different from the band of old, but so unlike anything else on the album.
The beginning of summer produced lead single ‘Here We Go’ back at the beginning of June to whet the appetite for the album, and start hype for summer festivals and shows. The track may have hinted at a more guitar heavy record than panned out, but airplay was constant throughout the coming months and (bar some unnecessary backing talking and dodgy lyrics) the catchiness and glossy vocals show the improved strength of Mike Duce‘s signing ability compared to previous releases from the Watford band.
Follow-up hit, ‘English Kid In America’, tells a tale of the lads stateside with enticing pop-rock verses and an easy listening bridge, but a lazy chorus falls flat and loses all potential the song could have had as a feel good hit of the summer. The reverse of the double A side, ‘Emily’, takes a much more pop route, and it’s clear that Mike Duce‘s time writing with 5 Seconds Of Summer has rubbed off. It’s hardly a classic, but there’s no doubting that the combination of Duce and Dan Lancaster can produce a hit, and it’s sure to have a more radio friendly vibe than most of the other material.
The best moment on ‘Lower Than Atlantis’, and possibly the most marketable, comes in the form of ‘Ain’t No Friend’; a track built like a dance pop record with emphasised vocals, but with a rocky edge during the chorus and a good example of the diversity on the album.
However, the mismatched identity is painfully cringey during ‘Criminal’, which sounds like The Pretty Reckless were making a Bond theme but the lyrics don’t fit the musical structure of the song, and ‘Stays The Same’ wouldn’t be out of place on a record by The 1975. Not to say that these tracks aren’t enjoyably individually, but there’s no option for compatibility as a collection of songs and certainly not by a band trying to push their punk rock influences, however infrequently that seems to be.
All in all, there are enough singles to compliment the album and take Lower Than Atlantis to a new level in their career, and if one release doesn’t work then it’s possible to rely on a genre change to recruit new followers. Old school fans might be alienated by the majority of the self-titled album, but ‘Number One’ and ‘Time’ might give them pleasure in their old faithful and learn to love the new them.
It might be over produced, as many major label rock bands become, and it may be a mess lyrically, but with the backing and push of the support they have, this self-titled effort it’s sure to be a hit and improve the band as a whole in the long run.
Written by Michael Heath (@MikeBeef)