Lower Dens – The Competition

Ditching the accompanying band for his new album, Jana Hunter embraces the 80s aesthetic further on his fourth record

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 04 Sep 2019
  • Lower Dens - The Competition
Album title: The Competition
Artist: Lower Dens
Label: Ribbon
Release date: 6 Sep

While Baltimore, Maryland's Lower Dens has always been the project of lead singer-songwriter Jana Hunter, their former accompanying band has now been shed for their fourth album. The Competition is entirely the work of Hunter, who proudly takes centre stage on the record's 80s-influenced artwork. Indeed, Lower Dens as a project has always owed a lot to 80s synthesisers and drum machines, but none more so than here.

The Competition lays out a retrograded yet futuristic world to comment on modern society, dealing in political and gender identities at a time where these discussions have never been more prominent. On Young Republicans, Hunter lays out a snarkily satirical anthem dealing with this exact discourse with a cheeky nod to David Bowie's similarly titled 70s-romp.

Musically, Hunter creates something that borders on what one would imagine a collaboration between Beach House and Robyn would sound like. It's an odd combination on the face of it, such as on Real Thing, but yet strangely somehow works. Essentially, while Hunter is fiercely conveying an important message, one's enjoyment will depend on the unsubtle nature of the message or the slightly formulaic nature of the music – but with openers as soaring as Galapagos, it sure is hard to resist. 

Listen to: Young Republicans, Real Thing, Galapagos