Copenhagen’s post-punk band Lower, on its full-length debut “Seek Warmer Climes,” walks the line between its proto- and post-punk influences while forging its own path, using more subtle sounds that normally would have no place in their world of pain and catharsis.
Tribal drumbeats, as on “Another Life,” stays in synergy with vocalist Adrian Toubro and Kristian Emdal’s weighty bass, while Simon Formann’s lead guitar sometimes stays quietly in the background.
The song “Unkempt, Uncaring” is a good example of this back-to-roots sound; its intense give-and-take between Toubro’s anxiety-ridden lyrics and Anton Rothstein’s drums is almost like a free-flowing jazz treatment in its primitiveness.
While they stick to their core punk roots and signature sound, the band also brings in more classical instruments such as violin. On the song “Bastard Tactics,” light piano notes bring a different color. Using unexpected sounds sparingly confirms they can have a gentle touch and are subtle when need be.
Most of the time though, “Seek Lower Climes” is shockingly direct, with visceral vocals from Toubro. He often seems on a precipice, in life and thought, where his voice is given the stark and stripped-down treatment. He’s a constant force.
“Expanding Horizons (Dar es Salaam)” fires on all cylinders, its chorus an irresistible call. The single “Lost Weight, Perfect Skin” owns a guitar riff from Formann that feeds the perfect anthem song, echoing U2’s dark “October” days and The Edge’s urgency. A bit of Minor Threat and Fugazi; more of Interpol bubbles around the edges of Lower’s span uneasiness.
From the band’s moniker to the album cover, they breathe the dramatic. But while emotions are always extreme on “Seek Warmer Climes,” they still remember to keep the melodies strong.
The song “Soft Option” seems the more radio-friendly option — it’s somehow steadier and more even than the others. It is, surprisingly, a song about two people who were once in love. “You say, that I don’t care for dialogue……The tension’s tearing at your heartstrings, right in under your skin/but now darlin/ you’re on your back again/let’s call a truce on this occasion.”
Lower promises a journey into yourself, but also a way out.
“Seek Warmer Climes” was released June 17; you can get it on Matador Records. Check out more of their music on Bandcamp.