Today fellow writer Jean Pierre and I will be delving into the wonderfully enchanting musical world of Lack the Low. The one-person project is something of a sensation if you ask us, but it’s absolutely no surprise coming from an Australian band, especially one found on the Art as Catharsis roster. More specifically though, we’re picking apart the lovely details of Lack the Low’s latest offering, God-Carrier.
Robert: So, what’s cracking JP?
Jean Pierre: Hey, I just got home back from work. What about you?
R: I’m actually still at work, but taking advantage of downtime to have this conversation.
JP: Well, no need to beat around the bush any longer with the small talk then – let’s get down to brass tacks, that being the new Lack the Low record. What are your initial thoughts on this short and sweet bundle of joy?
R: Indeed. I have to say I was beyond thrilled when I saw that there will be a new Lack the Low record some time ago. I was legit spinning One Eye Closed in proximity to that moment, wistfully thinking that it’s about damn time for some more awesomeness.
For the record, this is actually the first band I ever encountered to have a predominantly pop-leaning sound that I legit began to love. It was definitely surprising for me as well, as I basically grew up as one of those ‘I only listen to metal‘ caveman mentality dudes in my early teens.
Anyway, God-Carrier is basically god-sent, and it’s a surprising progression (to me at least) given the musical trajectory of One Eye Closed.
JP: I totally get what you mean, as this feels as far removed as can be from being a traditional pop record whilst still being inherently pop as a whole. To put it simply, it’s ‘clever’ pop, embellished with all these different sounds from various genres, such as classical, electronic, some slight metal tendencies, and so on. It is a pop record in disguise, nuanced enough to ‘fool’ those that think nothing worth listening to comes from the genre. That couldn’t be truer, though, as Lack the Low is evidence that this isn’t the case. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of assembly line music coming from the genre, because there most definitely is.
R: Absolutely, this is pop (but more specifically, avant-pop) at its absolute finest. Not that I’m a connoisseur or anything anywhere near that, but I’m that confident in the level of quality of the music at hand.
Kat Hunter is an absolute gem of a musician for managing, single-handedly, to deliver such a compelling and authentic experience. She definitely draws most of the meat of the music from classical and electronic, on top of the pop bedrock, but I’m really not seeing the metal angle you posited. Care to expand on that a little? I feel like we should clarify that little detail.
JP: Avant-pop is a good way to put it, so let’s leave it at that. Regarding my ‘slight metal’ comment, I more so meant that with the focus on the instrumentation, which isn’t something pop is known for at all. Pop is usually 95% vocals and 5% everything else, simply because the vocals is the most appealing part to people who don’t dig deeper into music asides from catchy vocals, and artists capitalize on that. The thing that makes Lack the Low so interesting to me is the focus on the vocals AND the instrumentation, all while still being a pop record at its core.
Take the opening track “Rushlight”, for example, as the outro to that particular song has this breakbeat kind of drum groove alongside fluttering electronics. It is a lot more instrumental-heavy for a pop record, and that is more so what I meant. There is actual instrumental depth here, so my saying of ‘metal’ was more along the lines of that. Of course, this doesn’t mean that only metal has instrumental depth, but in the case of “Rushlight”, it feels pretty technical and complex enough for me to have that thought.
R: I think I’d chalk that up to being a prog rock influence, but let’s not dawdle in semantics; I totally see your point, and I definitely agree with all of that. I would like to underline, though, that while there’s a healthy emphasis on songwriting and instrumentation, I feel like there’s a somewhat equal emphasis on catchy hooks, which are the very foundation of pop music as we know it.
The fact that there’s so much to unpack, while being able to revel in simple and catchy hooks is quite the achievement and I’m confident in saying it applies equally to both Lack the Low records.
JP: Most definitely, there is a good balance between that song structure/instrumentation and fun, infectious vocals. As I mentioned about the instrumentation of “Rushlight”, we have others like “The Sharpest Knife” or “Saturn”, which are much more vocally driven, but still unique enough on their own. It is crazy to me how many different sounds and styles there are blended into this record, all under thirty minutes, yet it never once feels aimless or scattered. It is as wide as an ocean, but also as deep as one too, unlike the saying ‘wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle’.
R: Yeah, totally. Also, dude, that vocal hook in “Saturn” had me swaying like leaves in the wind only to adopt my deep listening stance in the latter half over that progressive/quasi-psychedelic bit. It’s really sweet how God-Carrier capitalizes on traversing so much musical terrain with this level of comprehension and craftsmanship, one upping basically the entirety of One Eye Closed.
I also feel like it’s a much more, for the lack of a better word, serious/somber album when compared to One Eye Closed. I mean that in a very elastic way too. It’s kind of like how God-Carrier taps into some nigh mystical dimension, or rather hints at the idea of an individual delving deeper within. It’s all over the place, too. Even the lighthearted and soothing segments have some profound emotive charge tied in, while the deeper parts just hit different.
JP: Funny you mention that track and your spiritual experience listening to it, as “Saturn” was actually the song that I enjoyed the least. I still listen to it and don’t skip it as I listen through God-Carrier, but I don’t know man, that vocal fluttering that is used in essentially every line on this song isn’t particularly the most appealing to my ears. If that vocal inflection was used sparingly, I would’ve appreciated it more but that wasn’t the case here. I like the track a lot, I just don’t love it as I did every other track on the record.
I don’t have anything specific to add to your comparisons between God-Carrier and One Eye Closed, as I still really need to listen to One Eye Closed a lot more than I have… Forgive me, I’ve just been overwhelmed with stuff to listen to, you know how it is. But with my dive into God-Carrier, I definitely been doing myself a disservice not listening to One Eye Closed as much as I should be.
R: I really can’t say I favor one song over the other. If you asked me to rank them I simply couldn’t. I’m facing a similar situation with One Eye Closed as well.
The one thing I really can’t speak for is how the lyrics play into all of this, especially by contrast with One Eye Closed. We only have lyrics for the first two songs, and it’s really nothing to latch onto given that I just can’t discern enough from the singing for the rest of them to make even a vaguely presentable image. I’m fairly certain we’re looking at an identical level of quality at the very least, as previously encountered.
The length of the record definitely came as something of a surprise too, being shorter than its predecessor, although it manages to pack a whole lot in this runtime. It’s one of the most effective uses of time in music I can call from recent memory. Not one moment goes to waste, not one space or rest feels even slightly out of place.
It’s obvious that God-Carrier is heavily distilled into the best version of itself it can possibly be. Even though I listened to it well over a dozen times, I still feel like I haven’t unpacked all of its contents.
I’d also like to note that in terms of instrument tone and overall production everything is at a high level. If the mp3 files sound this good and life-like, I’m certain the lossless version will just have me blankly staring slack jawed in my chair, drowned in shivers and goosebumps.
JP: I also would imagine that there is likely unfathomable quality within the lyrics; it just wouldn’t make sense at all if that wasn’t the case with how complex the rest of the music is. Yes, the short length is very appropriate for sure. There is a lot packed into this small package yet as I said earlier, it never feels aimless one bit despite being all over stylistically. Everything is meant to sound exactly as it does, and it sounds stellar all around. I find solace in the fact that these shorter albums leave me wanting more, leaving me more compelled to dive back in for another listen – this album is a perfect example of that. I found myself doing this with God-Carrier more than I’d like to admit; it is addictive.
R: I’m not exactly enthralled by short records, because I’m a ravenous fucker like that, but generally they do tend to be a lot more coherent and substantial than their longer-winded counterparts.
Honestly, even if the songwriting wouldn’t be this gripping, perhaps I’d still find myself returning just as often to Lack the Low for Kat Hunter’s amazing voice alone. There’s something so madly sweet about its timbre, especially as it manages to go from soft and soothing to powerful and expansive. It also feels kind of fragile so to say, but it retains a strong character in spite of that. I mean fragile in the sense that there’s a diaphanous quality to it, though.
JP: I share the same sentiment regarding the tender nature of the music. It feels so vulnerable, so real that I cannot help but acknowledge all the additional heartache that went into creating music like this. It is so damn inviting that no matter what mood I am in at a given moment, Hunter’s voice is enough to override that and pull me in for yet another playthrough. When an album is able to draw you in like that at any random moment, that is when you know it’s truly special, something Lack the Low is and always has been.
R: Indeed, Lack the Low is one outstanding project – to say the least. God-Carrier isn’t even officially out and I’m already psyched about what’s next from here on out. It’s safe to say we’re at the very least two or three years from a follow-up, and honestly, it could just as well be another five or six if what we get is at the same level of quality.
Until then though, One Eye Closed, but more than that, God-Carrier will keep us great company. While it’s also still pretty early in the year, I’m highly confident that God-Carrier will make it on year end lists. I doubt that anything can come close to it in this stylistic vicinity.