Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: Letting Up Despite Great Faults - Untogether

Letting Up Despite Great Faults return with their second album 'Untogether.' follow up to 2011's critically acclaimed EP 'Paper Crush.'

The opening guitar strums of Visions instantly transport you to early '90s bleak Britain with Shoegaze supremos Ride playing tour guide before a Bernard Sumner-esque style composition of linear guitar parts and sparse synths emerges to cement the bleakness furthermore. Visions sets the tone for 'Untogether' from the off; 10 songs of happy-sad daydream confusion which asks as many questions as they answer. As with earlier releases frontman Mike Lee's lyrics are hauntingly personal, complex and convoluted  So bleak at times that you would be forgiven for wondering if Lee is stealing other people's diaries; as his pen regularly spills a lifetimes worth of tragedy and regret, into a song or two, at a time.

Scratch and Take My Jacket, Pauline continue to pay homage to and plunder the New Order blueprint simultaneously with these dreamy compositions being swept along with Sumner's signature guitar sound and Gillian Gilbert-esque keystrokes prominently placed in the mix; however, both make for pleasurable listening. Mike Lee's sighing whisper vocal delivery can be comforting and almost motherly despite the content. This effect is enhanced by the purposefully unorthodox, lowdown placement of the vocals in the mix; rendering them at times an almost inaudible yet soothing hue of sound. Indeed all the songs need repeated listening to, to fully grasp the lyrical content. You almost need to train your ear not to be distracted by the bouncy happy musical front they are hiding behind. Postcard being a prime example of such tactics. You have no idea what the song is about but you are happy to be swept along by the memorable bouncy synth which propels the track.

Bulletproof Girl and Details Of My World benefit greatly from the vocals being slightly higher in the mix making the most of Mike Lee's soothing tones. The addition of keyboardist Annah Fisette's vocals act as a counter balance to Lee's vocals on Bulletproof Girl the most enjoyable song on the album thus far. Likewise Details of My World seems more accomplished than earlier offerings.with Lee's heartfelt lyrics such as "I can't reach you even when you're in the same room," and a chorus of "Don't you realise that hurts more," really hitting home. The inclusion of a prominent bassline for the first time on the album also helps reduce 'Untogethers' over reliance on synthlines to provide melody.

Breaking offers a momentary rock n roll distraction from its electro leaning predecessors with the aid of distorted guitar. Perhaps it would have served the album better to place this track earlier in the running order as a sudden change in direction earlier in the record may have enhanced the impact of certain songs currently running side by side. The Best Part is probably the most successful of the overly textured songs purely thanks to its bombast. It signals a return to the albums main reference point New Order which is continued on Numbered Days before On Your Mark closes the album in an acoustic haze of reverb. Once again you have to question the running order of the album as yet again it would be more pleasing for the listener if On Your Mark appeared earlier on the album.

Overall despite some beautiful daydream shoegaze songs 'Untogether' lacks the momentum of previous effort 'Paper Crush EP'. It suffers from a lack of diversity; especially in relation to the mixes and the band have not done themselves any favours with a running order which emphasises the similarity of songs and not the differences.

No comments: