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Lost Under Heaven - Love Hates What You Become Music Album Reviews

On their second album, Ebony Hoorn and WU LYF’s Ellery Roberts sell a mix of motivation and despair with sheer bombast.

The Manchester duo Lost Under Heaven, or LUH, have never been keen on subtlety. Super-sized in every dimension, the music of former WU LYF leader Ellery Roberts and visual artist Ebony Hoorn sought grand answers about love and mortality by way of drastic melodies on their 2016 debut, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing. They haven’t downsized for Love Hates What You Become, a 10-track set that finds Roberts and Hoorn blowing out every sentiment, string sample, and crescendo while investigating larger-than-life characters and existential dilemmas. This vigor can offer a welcome jolt out of apathy, but the pair’s lack of restraint sometimes moves into alienating melodrama, too, like an epic film that’s moving to the point of being maudlin.

At its best, Love Hates What You Become rattles with perfect intensity. Roberts’ sawtooth snarl is commanding, while John Congleton’s production is hyper-attentive to shifting moods, pulling back to sparse piano or pushing into total distortion as needed. Opener “Come” exemplifies the pair’s electro prowess: Roberts’ brash voice works through a cacophony of digitized percussion that spits and sputters, like steam escaping a pressure cooker. Bass and blast beats swirl at the periphery, as though some colossal machine is being ripped apart from the inside out. Roberts’ rasp finds equilibrium in the dissonance. “For the Wild” and “Bunny’s Blues,” meanwhile, cloak their arena-rock DNA in scaly exoskeletons. In these tracks, the lyrics are largely unintelligible—a good thing, since the trifecta of overpowering arrangements, grave subject matter, and Roberts’ vocal yearning is too rich a meal for a single song.

On “Post Millennial Tension,” it actually becomes too much. Tides of reverb and celestial string samples magnify Roberts’ severe growl to the point of cartoonish tragicomedy, and his broad-brushed pronouncements of youthful rebellion don’t help. “Everybody singing, ‘Fuck the world’/Close our eyes, we will be all right/All the lovers sing, ‘This our world,’” he implores. “Do we stand, take up the fight?” The chest-beaten battle cry is unintentionally laughable, with any sense of what Roberts is fighting for lost to bombast. His caustic howl pushes the title track to the point of absurdity, too, especially in its juxtaposition with Hoorn’s laid-back drawl. Hoorn’s voice is often the antidote to Roberts’ venom, but it just makes Roberts sound like he’s trying too hard here.

The crown jewel of Love is, somewhat ironically, its least-produced number. “Savage Messiah” swaggers to saloon piano and lashing guitar. The sauntering arrangement is lively and raw, owing to its improvised origins. Recorded hours after the band landed in Los Angeles, the song conjures jetlag haze, punctuated by Thor Harris’ driving percussion and paved with Hoorn’s smoky murmurs. LUH keep close to the ground, rolling along like a tumbleweed tangled with dust, barbed wire, and bits of bone. “Savage Messiah” makes a strong case for moderation and spontaneity, rare assets across Love Hates What You Become.

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