American indie pop band Lower Dens takes on a sinful load of synths on the self-discovery journey that is their fourth album. The Competition is a retro-sounding take on the contemporary issue of finding oneself in a world full of impressions and expectations.
Lead singer Jaden Hunt has said The Competition speaks, in various ways, to the necessity of “socially de-conditioning ourselves and learning how to be people.” And in increasingly industrial world, it only feels right that the band is adventuring down a more electronic path. The album is jam-packed with synths taking on the modern-day 80s vibe popularised by pop culture phenomenons such as Stranger Things.
While most music sounds better with a solid sound system, it is an essential for the optimal listening experience of The Competition. High quality sound is what will distinguish the record as 80s groovy, rather than a synth cacophony.
Hunt’s deeper voice is impeccable at exuding despair, which elevates on the more despondent tracks such as Buster Keaton (which humorously alludes to the 20th century silent film actor better known as The Great Stone Face).
Lower Dens has successfully created a cohesive album, rather than a line of singles. The tracks flow seamlessly into each other – also if you accidentally listen on shuffle.
While it was the album’s first track Galapagos, which was released as the first single, presumably because it serves well as an introduction to the concept of the album, it is the song Young Republicans, which stands out as the strongest pop track on the album. The track is humorous and full of energy, with the modern electronic indie pop sound you would find in a significant portion of teenage movies.
Lower Dens’ fourth album feels genuine to both the current climate of music, but also to their sound. The album has a humorous approach to the dark material which feels very genuine to the new generation.
The band has successfully managed to encapsulate some rather heavy matters, meaning it is not a very uplifting listen. However, the upbeat and bright synths can sometimes blissfully distract you from the doom, which might serve in a metaphor of itself.