Lower Dens : Nootropics
The krautrock-loving Nootropics ushers in a clear change in sound for Baltimore art-rock quartet Lower Dens, though it has much in common with their debut album, Twin Hand Movement. Both conjure up a dark, stark mood that goes a long way in making up for their inconsistencies.
There are some undeniably captivating moments on Nootropics that immediately catch your attention and make this a release work getting hold of. Alphabet Song and Nova Anthem evoke the lulling incantations of Beach House, though it’s more nightmare pop than dream pop. Equally as creepy is the exhilarating robotic throb of Brains, where the band come on like a gothic Stereolab and deliver their strongest composition yet. These highlights not only crystalize a forceful new sound for the band, they bring Jane Hunter’s brooding vocals to the forefront, and she has never sounded better.
It takes a bit longer to warm to the remainder of the album. On first listen, some tracks sound half-baked, others long-winded. Stem and Lion In Winter Part 1 make for forgettable individual tracks, but are designed as intros/codas to other songs and make a lot more sense within the context of the album. Even the plodding, dirge-like Propagation weaves a mysterious spell in time, though I don’t think I can spare another 12 minutes of my life suffering through the dreary closing song, In The End Is The Beginning.
Nootropics reveals a band who are still flawed, but also still captivating. Their confident new sound makes for a stronger second album, though I suspect their best is yet to come.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Best Track: Brains
If You Like This, You’ll Like These: Melt! SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES, Devotion BEACH HOUSE
In A Word: Menacing