Long-time workers of the British music scene, Lower Than Atlantis have always seemed to be shunned by the spotlight that they deserve. Despite several prestigious festival spots in recent years, bands of the same class seem to keep getting placed ahead of them.
However, LTA has consistently been putting out some of the best rock music, and although none of their albums have been commercial successes, their confidence and continual touring have kept them at the back of everyone’s mind. Now, with newfound maturity, Lower Than Atlantis seem to have finally hit the sweet spot of writing arena-worthy bangers on their new album Safe in Sound.
Four singles from the album were released in January — a move which usually harms the band — however “Had Enough,” “Boomerang,” “Work For It” and “Dumb” are perfect examples of what they can offer on this album. Each sounds different enough from the rest and most of their previously released music, enough so that they work as a teaser, not a spoiler. LTA have always had a rough-around-the-edges sound, but it's now gone. Instead, the band sounds professional to the extreme — as you’d expect from a fifth album. Lead vocalist Mike Duce sounds his very best, the album showcasing the best vocal work he’s done to date, and even though some of the lyrics could be easily taken from any number of alt-rock bands, his delivery manages to save it from falling into cliché.
Although all of the songs are catchy, undoubtedly written to make a room full of people sing along, there seems to be a missing spark that was present in their previous work. “Another Sad Song,” from their 2008 album World Record, is by far one of the best songs the band has written. It’s personal and bitter and angry all at the same time, and starts slow before building up into something shouted back at every live performance. There’s none of that personal emotion on Safe in Sound, and although the choruses are as catchy as you might hope, the personality of the band was lost.
Of course, if it was written to be a tidy, crowd pleasing album, LTA have succeeded. There’s still enough to set this apart from the pack of other artists writing similar stadium alt-rock, and if you’ve never heard of LTA before, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen. It is focused, with sing-along choruses everywhere you look, and the guitar riffs are just meaty enough to make this rock. Anyone new to the band will find a well-written rock album; long term fans, though, might just leave a little disappointed.