the xx, London Grammar, alt-J
Experimental Bliss Pop
" Lush, widescreen dreamscapes "
Quiet, slow-burn dream pop has become something of a cliché of late, to the point where even the xx, the band that catapulted quiet intimacy and sensual menace onto main stages and TV syncs the world over, are struggling to escape the “drearily plodding” tag. Danish five-piece Lowly first appeared in 2014, when bringing #AllTheFeels was still considered a virtue, not a drawback, with atmospheric swirls and reverb-soaked songs marking them out as a band very much on the up. But their debut record, released earlier this year, proved that there’s plenty of drama and substance bubbling beneath the style.
Lowly build their songs from the inside out, anchoring each one in various universal feelings – isolation, loneliness, sadness. They can do achingly beautiful, such as on ‘Still Life’ and ‘Cait #2’, but while other bands paint with broad strokes of synth washes and gloomy melodies, Lowly have the ability to change gear and employ a wider palette of ideas. Neat little flourishes and arpeggios abound, and a few of their tracks flirt with electro pop and funk, bustling along in invigorating fashion. It’s this richness that elevates their music beyond simple introspection and gives it a sense of hope that tempers some of the lyrical sentiments.
Employing twin vocalists is another masterstroke, Nanna Schannong’s and Soffie Viemose’s voices dancing around each other, taking turns in the lead. “Have you ever felt so lonely?” sings Viemose at one point, but it’s not sad. Like their music, it just illustrates that we’re all far more similar than we think.