I’m so jazzed that one of the 2015 releases I’ve been especially looking forward to is now in sight: Lower Dens‘ third album, Escape from Evil. The Baltimore quartet tease its release next month with “To Die In L.A.”, their first new music in three years.
Lower Dens made their splash with an austere, icy rock infused with the chilly drama of new wave and postpunk. On their last album, the excellent Nootropics, songs would build rich tension out of drum patter, atmospheric guitar, and stark keyboards, transporting the listener through enigmatic landscapes. Now, “To Die In L.A.” finds the band embracing the virtues of conciseness and forthrightness; it’s bright, upbeat, and dare I say even danceable in an 80s MTV kind of way. Still, its soaring chorus traffics in the emotional rush that Lower Dens do so very well.
Also, this has to be said: the Baltimore scene seems to love its charismatic frontwomen who sing with a honey-throated alto. Unlike Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, however, there’s nothing coy or reticent about the presence Lower Dens leader Jana Hunter exudes in her music. The confidence and fearlessness previewed on this new track indicate she’s ready to seize the higher profile that Escape from Evil will surely give this worthy band.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.