Lower Than Atlantis are men on a mission on their new release Safe in Sound. As frontman Mike Duce states: “We’re headlining the biggest shows we’ve ever played so we’ve written what we think is a record big enough to be played in those venues”. How does this determination manifest in their fifth studio album?
Opener, ‘Had Enough’ certainly sets the tone with a heavy, grungy, but also poppy, riff which is all guitar with slightly fuzz driven bass. Duce’s voice is clean and you can certainly tell they are angling toward those bigger venues. Again this can be heard on ‘Dumb’ which is in your face and all bass at the beginning. The singer is in accusatory form toward a significant other as the chorus repeats “Don’t have to play dumb.”
‘Long Time Coming’ is lively and confident with the “who are ya” terrace chanting perfect for a singalong on the festival circuit. ‘Boomerang’ opens with the refrain, “The tree remembers what the axe forgets.” You can sense that Duce is looking for a connection and hoping for that call and return that can occur between singer and audience. There is a funky quality to this number and the band is more than able to hold their own as the middle opens up nicely adding space to this tune.
‘Work for It’ returns to that grungy bass feel with a glam rock stomp thrown in for good measure and the, at times, languid vocal delivery works very well against this backdrop. ‘Could be worse’ finds the band adding a blues twist to their repertoire with a shuffling beat holding it all down. It is good to see the shift in direction highlighting that they are a band that are not just one dimensional paint by the numbers grunge rock. With that in mind, ‘I would’ has more punk tendencies and finds our singer “Feeling sick and thinking sketchy shit” as he ponders the craziness of love.
‘Money’ comes from left-field seeing as it has a reggae opening that gives way to pop-skank that aims again for the ubiquitous singalong. ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’ is a ballad and a nice change of pace however, the lyrics take,as the title suggests, a darker turn with Duce wishing he’d “never been born.” The use of strings and swells are rather touching and the sincerity of the vocal lifts the song above the ordinary. ‘A night to forget’ ends the album on an up as they return to a tried and tested formula of the pop-grunge aesthetic stylings that serves the band well.
It is clear that Lower than Atlantis have learned much from playing slots at Rock am Ring, Leeds and Reading festivals to name but a few. This is a band with the ambition to go out there and chase exactly what they want. This is probably not an album for those old enough to remember the raw anger of grunge but if you are looking for a collection of songs that will make you want to sing out loud at a festival then these might just be the guys for you.