Album review: LOWLIVES – Freaking Out

LA-via-UK quartet LOWLIVES rediscover the thrill of rocking out on grungy debut album, Freaking Out.

Album review: LOWLIVES – Freaking Out
Emma Wilkes

LOWLIVES make noise with the purest of intentions. After vocalist Lee Downer and drummer Luke Johnson crossed paths as Englishmen in LA, having both been strung out by the machinations of the music industry, they set out to wring the magic out of music again. On the now-quartet’s debut album, there’s no pretences, no nonsense and no wild attempts to cut up and restitch the principles of music, but there’s an unmistakable passion powering their output – and plenty of gritty, ’90s-inspired bangers.

It's not flawless from the off. The opening title-track feels a little too forceful, overcooked even, but once LOWLIVES ease into what they’re doing, they flourish. Getting High On Being Low heralds a screeching turn into the fast lane with chunkier riffs and bigger hooks while the gruff guitar lines on Swan Dive sound positively filthy up until a divine, atmospheric outro (which could have also made a great standalone interlude) brings it home. Later on, the skeletal acoustic ballad Vertigo has a dark, enchanting feeling about it, throwing light on their talent for being minimalist as well as maximalist.

If you grew up with your wardrobe stuffed full of oversized flannels and Nirvana shirts, Freaking Out will likely be your bag – hell, there are even points where it feels like their melodies have been ghostwritten for Kurt Cobain, such as on the punk’n’roll earthquake that is You Don’t Care. That said, this isn’t a record that sags with nostalgia, nor one that is cheaply reconstituting three-decade old sounds. While it’s clear what music this band were raised on, it’s individual and modern enough to sound distinct and boy, does it go hard.

If you’re heading to Download in a couple of weeks, you might want to clear some space in your schedule on Saturday to let these guys rock your world.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Nirvana, James And The Cold Gun, unpeople

Freaking Out is released May 31 via Spinefarm. Get your Download tickets now.

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