When Lower Than Atlantis signed to Island Records back in early 2012, everyone thought that the album that followed would be the one that changed their lives, so when 'Changing Tune' didn't go as well as expected, I don't think anyone had any ideas about where they would end up heading with their fourth album. With a tumultuous couple of years and an awful lot of uncertainty, the first single from their eponymous album, 'Here We Go', was released in June with vocalist Mike Duce ominously announcing that if things didn't go to plan with this album, it could be the end of them.
But after hearing this album, I don't think that's going to be happening.
Quite frankly, this album is a triumph. Mike has always been accused of being a miserable bastard, but this is the most upbeat and positive Lower Than Atlantis that I think I've ever heard. 'Here We Go' is a battle cry of epic proportions, proclaiming "Come and have a go if you think you are hard enough" and challenging all of their critics to hit out at them following one of, if not the, most successful singles of the year. This sentiment is further developed on later, with a lyric in 'Criminal' stating "Is it really selling out if we just used them for their funds?". Second track 'Ain't No Friend' features a dance influence grounded in their rockier roots perfectly demonstrates the fact that this is a new Lower Than Atlantis, and a better one, than ever before. They've got the balls to stand up for themselves against critics and label bosses and the balls to make risky decisions, both of which make for a brilliant band.
Despite the fact that I think this is probably one of the best albums of the year, there is an off moment in the shape of penultimate track 'Just What You Need'. Coupling echoey vocals with dance undertones seems uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of the chorus, which is of a much more conventional and enjoyable sound.
But other than that, everything is absolutely magnificent. 'English Kids In America' was one of the most well-received songs at Reading Festival back in August and when a song that's only been released for a few weeks gets a sing-along of those kinds of proportions it proves that something big is coming. People have been ranting and raving about 'Emily' since its release last month and, although I don't really think it lives up to that level of hype, it really demonstrates a softer side to Mike, who admitted penning the song about his dog Rosie. Similarly, in 'Words Don't Come So Easily' the emotions are also shoved to the forefront, displaying the lyrical prowess that has resulted in Mike writing for the likes of McBusted and 5 Seconds of Summer in recent months.
However much I hate to disagree with a man that I deeply respect, the lyric of "I'm only gonna waste your time" from 'Time' is completely incorrect. 'Lower Than Atlantis' was anything but a waste of my time. One of my most anticipated albums of 2014, I am pleased to say that I am not disappointed at all. For a band that I greatly admire but wouldn't describe myself as being a huge fan of, that has changed with this album. I am completely converted. The lyrics that Mike writes are completely flawless and, in my opinion, I think that lyrics are the most important piece of any song. 'Damn Nation' really gets you thinking, while 'Live Slow, Die Old' is much more inspiring than the YOLO message that seems to be preached by most young people in recent times. The lyric "Everyone dies, I'm gonna have fun until then" perfectly sums up this album. With the music industry starting to struggling due to the rise of illegal downloads and piracy, so many bands are packing their bags and moving on with their lives (see: Canterbury, Kids In Glass Houses, Jody Has a Hitlist), so the fact that Lower Than Atlantis have managed to fill the majority of this album with fun and positivity is impressive. Even while changing labels and nearly not making this album it shows that music is their passion and they aren't giving in any time soon, as well they shouldn't.
Here We Go
Ain't No Friend
English Kids In America
Words Don't Come So Easily
Stays The Same
Live Slow, Die Old
Just What You Need