This sophomore album by Baltimore quintet Lower Dens is ambitious, chilly, and heavy on the atmosphere. Anchored by vocals from folk singer Jana Hunter, these songs create an overarching sound that is epic and yet slightly detached. Fans of the musical genres listed above: this album will make your mouths water. The whole album is solid, but 2, 4, and 5 are good places to start. FCC WARNING 9.
1. (5:28)—A loping mid-tempo beat opens and leads this song. The music stays pretty calm. Synthesizer is prominent.
2. *(5:07)—Fast, driving beat. This song maintains a tightly coiled tension even as it builds and expands. Terrifyingly beautiful. One of the best songs of 2012. Note: the ending leads into the next track; either fade this track out or play the next track as well.
3. (2:06)—Instrumental. A coda to the previous track. Guitar and synth interplay.
4. *(4:57)—Slow. Gorgeous, psychedelic, stream-of-conscious ballad.
5. *(3:41)—Heavy on the dark, epic post-punk sounds. If a post-punk rock opera existed, it could very well sound something like this.
6. (3:20)—The song that most closely approaches a pop form. Ominous, though, from the lonely guitar wails to the cold, plunked bass clef piano sounds.
7. (4:16)—Instrumental. Drone-y, dark. False ending at -0:40. Leads right into the next track.
8. (3:35)—Woozy, mid-tempo dance music.
9. (5:27)—FCC WARNING (s•••house). Slow and epic. Hunter’s vocals are particularly strong here.
10. (12:18)—Very noir beginning. With the entrance of Hunter’s vocals, the song starts to sound like an incantation. Guitar interplay dominates the last seven minutes, and vocals re-enter the mix at -3:30.