Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Lowtones’ self-titled debut album sheds new light on 70s and 80s post-punk

With flashes of guitars in the distance, soaring synths, charged drums, and vigorous bass lines, The Lowtones’ album of the same name introduces the world to a melancholic, yet aggressive new band to take the indie world by storm. Dripping with drama and drenched in reverb, The Lowtones have forged a sound reminiscent of Joy Division and, perhaps in some ways, U2.

Released March 15, 2021, The Lowtones is a testament to the art of the album not being dead. The songwriting captures a flow within each song that guides the listener to extreme highs and lows. Furthermore, song-to-song, the writing of the album as a whole lends itself to the idea that each song belongs precisely where it is. In this way, The Lowtones take the listener on a journey for the 25 minutes of music.

On that note, it’s amazing how so much content is packed into songs that stay under three minutes without feeling rushed. This is a fascinating distinction from the influences of similar-sounding bands of the 70s and 80s, where writing four to six-minute songs was commonplace. The Lowtones, in more ways than this, are a great example of the effects of modernity in the music world; looking in the rearview mirror while driving forward. Each song is a passing moment, thought, or feeling, that quickly fades into the next.

After listening through the entire album a number of times, it’s hard to pick just a couple favorite songs. However, Near Misses and Second Chances really stand out in their own ways. Near Misses begins with flowing and energetic guitars, a perfectly syncopated bass line, and a ride cymbal groove to set the mood. 

The song develops into a post-punk anthem to blast while driving around with the windows down, “I am never going to change, will someone accept me the way that I came.” Second Chances is a slightly darker song tonally, that throws an incredibly catchy chorus melody at the listener accompanied by synth pedal tones that help to convey the emotions behind, “Oh, please give me one last chance.

Other notable songs include the driven and emotional Losing You, with the hook, “Nothing hurts the same as losing you,” and Let Go, with its ethereal guitars and the feeling that it’s floating across the surface of the sound world that The Lowtones had so keenly established across the album.

Something unique about The Lowtones is how their writing uses Oli “Mav” Mavilio’s voice not only as a separate line on which to deliver lyrics, but sometimes as another instrument to contribute to the band’s sound, similar to how the guitar functions. And just as distinct as the band, his voice. Mavilio’s voice stands out in both tone and how each word is emphasized like it’s more important than the last. This style of singing works well for the overall attitude and almost desperation in how each song progresses. Additionally, Mavilio delivers an emotionally charged performance throughout the album and showcases a particular vulnerability in the dark ballad, Spitfire.

The four-piece doesn’t hold back in these well-crafted songs and shows that they can shine without stepping on any other part’s toes. The vibe they’ve created makes me feel like I’m the main character in an indie movie and this album is the soundtrack. Based on this album, I’m very excited to see what the future has in store for The Lowtones, as I’m now a new fan and an avid listener.

Christian Koller


Image: Official Album Artwork


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