Published Mar 27, 2015After Lower Dens' brilliant, ruminative 2012 breakout Nootropics, Lower Dens mastermind Jana Hunter was tired; life on the road playing the same slow, brooding songs began to weigh on the band. Following a much-needed break, the band reconvened, with a slightly altered line-up, to record a new album that eschewed Nootropics' cerebral, complex nature.
That Lower Dens released sprightly synth-pop single "To Die in L.A." as the first taste of their third album was telling: Escape From Evil finds the band exploring simpler, more efficient song structures, and it's the closest thing to pop music they've made yet. Of course, tracks like "I am the Earth" retain the slow-burning, dramatic edge that's defined their work to date, and Hunter's melancholic alto croon lends nearly everything they do a serious-as-your-life feel, but the rhythmic twitch of "Your Heart Still Beating," the shimmying "Non Grata" and the uptempo, Smiths-esque highlight "Société Anonyme" all lend Escape From Evil a more light-hearted feel without losing the melodicism and expert songwriting that make the band compelling.
This might not be their best work — that's still the cohesive, mind-altering Nootropics — but Escape From Evil finds Lower Dens continuing to push themselves into new sonic territory, the hallmark of any great band. And when they do it this well, why complain? (Ribbon)