Combining pop sensibility, rock rawness, and the ambition of progressive music, Like Lovers has crafted a multi-faceted, impressive sophomore album with Syntax.

Release date: February 25 (for 10 days) – official release date to be announced | Listenrecords | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

We at Everything Is Noise like Like Lovers. Or maybe we love Like Lovers. Jan Kerscher, the artist behind this act, created an impressive modern pop debut that made its way to number 39 on our top 75 records of 2019. I could tell you about it, but the description at the time said it well:

With impressive confidence, this album is all about identity, with perfectly executed ideas and flawless arrangements. Critically overlooked, everyone who is interested in modern art pop should fall in love with this record.

So with that high level of appreciation, our team was waiting with anticipation to see how Kerscher would follow up 2019’s Everything All The Time Forever. Three years later, on Syntax, we see Like Lovers expertly meld hooks, rock grooves, and progressive elements into his modern pop repertoire with impressive results. There was a 10-day window for listeners to hear Syntax that ended on March 7. Now, we wait for the album’s full and permanent release. In the meantime, I can tell you about what you have to look forward to.

Opener “Ego / Ahimsa” immediately puts this mixture of approaches on display with a catchy, syncopated snare beat, a spoken word intro, and a mix of darting guitar melodies and chords. Before things get too esoteric, though, a massive guitar riff and Kerscher’s soaring vocals kick in. This quiet-loud approach allows Like Lovers’ melodic motifs to slowly evolve throughout the song while maintaining interest and energy. This energy continues and increases with the first single, “Shaping My Shadows”. Its danceable grooves, pulsing bass, and unique sound design evoke, to me, comparisons with a later-career Steven Wilson, but with perhaps more of a fun, grounded approach.

However, Like Lovers also shine when the volume is turned down and the dancing stops. Whether with an electronic-tinged piano ballad like “Identified” or the gentle, intimate keys and near-whispered vocals of “Delta / Samadhi”, Kerscher demonstrates his ability to craft beautiful songs and an emotional experience for listeners. Interestingly, the quiet “Delta / Samadhi” flows smoothly into the more percussive yet atmospheric “Breach / Samsara”. The latter track continues exploring Buddhist/Hindu themes while incorporating layered vocals and moody, expansive soundscapes that evoke comparisons to White Moth Black Butterfly.

What becomes both increasingly apparent and impressive as Syntax unfolds is the relatively seamless pacing of the record. While each song is self-contained, Like Lovers structured the album so that each track builds on or responds to the previous one. Sometimes, this occurs through contrast (“Shaping Shadows” into “Identified”), but other times momentum and elements build or layer from track to track, like we hear from “Delta / Samadhi” to “Breach / Samsara” to “Gravitation”. In this way, each song has a distinct identity that feels like a part of a larger, conceptual piece.

Syntax is a stunning album; that much becomes ever more obvious with each listen. Wielding an expansive sonic palette, masterful performances, conscientious arranging, and an emotional, expressive core, Like Lovers’ sophomore release demonstrates Jan Kerscher’s mastery as a songwriter, producer, and performer.

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