CD Review: Lower Dens “Twin-Hand Movement”

Given the glut of bands who employ noise as an instrument in and of itself, it’s crucial that its role be played with purpose. Baltimore quartet Lower Dens isn’t quite up to this task on its debut full-length: Twin-Hand Movement. The album is a tale of two cities and one band ultimately caught wavering in between.

Displaying ample traces of fuzz-pop and krautrock, freak-folk chanteuse Jana Hunter’s new project has its toes dipped in terrific pools of inspiration. “Blue And Silver” and “A Dog’s Dick” wear their sprightly clangor proudly, not hiding within it, but attempting to show it up via big, radiant harmonies. Meanwhile, strong throwback vibes emerge on the delicately eddying “I Get Nervous” and fluttery motorik-riddled closer “Two Cocks Waving Wildly At Each Other Across A Vast Open Space, A Dark Icy Tundra.” A two-minute ditty, “Holy Water” is especially winsome in its Neu! reverence; twinkly, straight-shooting, and tons of fun.

Troubles arise when Lower Dens appear undecided on which avenue to favor and turn the engine off. “Tea Lights” is a tidier pensive number, not equipped with a hook or voice compelling enough to warrant the plod. “Completely Golden” blots out the sun and buries already-mannered melodies beneath crunchy slop. The band doesn’t make judicious use of fuzz when it’s abundant and isn’t all that strong at cultivating the slow and sinuous either, perhaps best reflected on the endlessly bromidic “Plastic And Powder”, which is dismal at first and positively painful as it limps toward the end of its six-and-a-half minutes. On “Rosie,” they eventually nestle back into that familiar kraut-pop, but only after half of its runtime is devoted to abject meandering.This lull in the action comes to define Twin-Hand Movement – an album sparked by bright ideas and fizzling out to dim direction.

Score: 6.2/10

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