Lowly – Hifalutin

Lowly improve on their debut with Hifalutin, a more consistent and varied record that never loses sight of the band's capacity for sheer beauty

Album Review by Joe Creely | 12 Apr 2019
  • Lowly – Hifalutin
Album title: Hifalutin
Artist: Lowly
Label: Bella Union
Release date: 12 Apr

Upon releasing their debut album, Lowly morphed from the fairly run of the mill dream-pop outfit we'd seen on their first EP into a forward-thinking force, with an expansive sound that took in skittering synth-pop and smooth indie-pop without losing the cavernous sense of space that was their own. Now, they're tasked with following Heba, one of the great surprise records of 2017.

The band have spoken of their only unanimous point of influence being Radiohead and it shows; not in a mimicking of sonics, rather in their aversion to rigid structures. Instead of clunking tone shifts, they have the songs in perpetual motion, always drifting from one idea to the next in constant development. It gives songs like Children, which starts with solo vocals from Nanna Schannong and ends up sounding like a bombastic The Field – an incredible momentum. The same goes for closer Wonder, which starts similarly low-key but by its peak is swollen with dissonant synths, a clattering break and choral voices. It’s a particularly unmechanical approach to songwriting that gives a human centre to the abstracted spaces the band creates.

However, their's no sense of them falling into the one trick trap that many dream-pop inflected bands do. Baglaens is akin to a crystalline Massive Attack ballad, all twinkling arpeggios and plodding bassline, but transcends their influence with its synth whiteouts. Opener Go For a Walk has a lot of the airy, immaterial sonics of Blonde before it transforms into a whirring mass of squawking electronics. Of course, at 14 tracks not everything is going to land, and In the Hearts doesn’t quite shift into any sort of gear. But even that has an ambient space – 20 seconds of unfurling brass, that is truly gorgeous.

A record dense with anxieties it may be but Lowly have improved on their debut with a more consistent and varied record that never loses sight of the band's capacity for sheer beauty.

Listen to: Baglaens, Children, Go For a Walk