Copenhagen’s underground punk scene has been brewing up angst-ridden and pissed-off punk bands for some time now. Iceage of course waved the flag for Denmark’s oppressed-feeling teens when their debut album first dropped back in 2010, and their success at beguiling, amped-up no wave opened up the punk floodgates like a beckoning war cry. Though many bands have shared Iceage’s passion, there has only been one to date that has managed to share their absolute raw talent, and that band is Lower.
Having trickled their post-punk poetry out to us over a series of 7” singles and EPs during the past couple of years, anticipation for a full-length Lower record has reached fever pitch - 2012’s Walk on Heads was short and concise yet loud and ferocious, wetting appetites everywhere with its sizzling riffs that accompanied the pulverising lethargy of frontman Adrian Toubro. Now releasing their debut proper on Matador, Lower have refined their decaying pop sensibilities into a dizzying display of post-hardcore tinged no wave that scrunches up your senses and then obliterates them for good measure.
Certainly an acquired taste, ‘Seek Warmer Climes’ is pop at its most decayed and decomposed - it’s an insight into the crippling thoughts of lethargy, loneliness, isolation and tension that flows through the veins of twenty-somethings every day. Lead single ‘Lost Weight, Perfect Skin’ is without a doubt the best song Lower have written to date - it pummels its way into your eardrums like a burst of out-of-character anger, leaving a crushing yet captivating chorus as an earworm in its wake. It’s what Lower do best, but on ‘Seeking Warmer Climes’, they don’t do enough of it.
Though many bands have shared Iceage’s passion, there has only been one to date that has managed to share their absolute raw talent, and that band is Lower.
Those looking solely for the hooks might find themselves stumbling around lost in Lower’s house of horrors. Those who spend the time exploring its haunted halls though will find that there’s more talent here beyond a catchy chorus or two - Toubro is a poet in a band that wraps itself around him with a full-throttle post-punk grasp. Each time his voice becomes more frustrated and depraved, so does the music - on ‘Craver’, the drums become more militant and pounding with every cry, and on sprawling ‘Expanding Horizons’, Lower descend into chaos - the energy on these tracks always feels like it’s going to explode out of a parent’s basement or low-light, dingy bar show.
Ultimately, Lower have produced the most promising Danish punk debut since Iceage’s ‘New Brigade’. Don’t mistake this record for a downbeat, greyish depressant - it’s far from it. If anything it’s lively, passionate, and really bloody loud, but it’s hard not to imagine all of this being exemplified on the live stage where Lower definitely belong. It’s not the most cohesive album - it darts around from one idea to the next quicker than you can bat an eyelid - but it is without a doubt exciting and enthralling.