I wondered if the move from Los Angeles to Austin would have any effect on Letting Up Despite Great Faults, but it’s clear that the only thing on the horizon for the group are great things. Their latest effort, Untogether, is a dense combination of shoe-gaze, electronica and wayward pop; it’s a tapestry of all the important sounds of our time.
“Visions” begins things with a ringing guitar that soon meets a slight keyboard before launching into a heavier haze of sounds. Soon you’ll hear Mike Lee seemingly whisper into the microphone; I love how the lyrics are present, yet still maintain an element of distance. It’s a tactic used frequently by the group, but it’s the musical elements that create differentiation throughout, blending genres as if they were irrelevant. “Scratch,” for instance follows the opener with a more angular guitar and keyboard stabs, all the while a pulsing rhythm broods in the background. Sure, you can put these tunes in the same world, but they don’t necessarily have to live together.
One of the things I like about Letting Up Despite Great Faults is the band’s ability to reside in one place, musically speaking, then another, then jump off to combine it all into a creative pop tune. For instance, you can take the dance heavy “Bulletproof Girl,” coated in electronic beats galore. You’d think for a moment that Untogether was going to be dance-floor ready from here on out, but not so. The following track “Details of My World” has a great bass line, allowing you to don your best boots for shaking it, but it also has this slightly jangling guitar that only increases in volume throughout the track. They back that right up to the fuzzier “Breaking,” which is softer, yet coated in a fuller wash of atmospheric haze. Lee’s vocals definitely take on a more gentle/intimate tone. It all sounds so distinctive, yet tied so well together.
But, I’ll admit that the band threw me for a loop, pleasantly. “On Your Mark” closes out Untogether with what one can only call a true guitar ballad. Yes, the musical structure is similar, as layers of varying sound, even an echo of the vocals, drench the song. Still, the core of the track is the vocal and carefully strummed guitar. It’s a mellow end to what, until that point, was a fairly enthusiastic record, yet I appreciate it’s reflective quality, asking you to go back and check your bearings.
Clearly Letting Up Despite Great Faults are coming into their own with this new LP. They sound extremely comfortable with the sound that they’ve created on Untogether, and listeners will be rewarded the more time they spent. It might take a few listens before you can completely unravel the sounds they’ve layered atop their pop-centric song structure, but you’ll be all the better for it. Don’t sleep on this one folks; you’ll definitely regret it.
Download:Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Visions [MP3]