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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 247 - 10/16/16

LVL UP
Return To Love
Sub Pop Records

The release of Return to Love marks the transition of New York band LVL UP into the wider indie scene. Having left their own label Double Double Whammy in a break it or make it fashion, the band managed to sign with Sub Pop.

In comparison to their earlier work Space Brothers (2011) and Hoodwink'd (2014), the record has that familiar feel, but it is also slighly deeper. Not arguing that the theme of the Hoodwink'd was shallow, but it did leave God and the existential ponderings out of the lyrics. In Return to Love this is not the case. The opening track "Hidden Driver" sets the scene with the chorus:

'God is peeking
Softly speaking
Breaking everything
Until I slowly do see,

Followed by:

'She broke right through the mess he made
Shoved an apple in his face
And impaled him with a long and gnarly stake
And I give thanks for it everyday
But I still think of god in the same way'

The hidden driver aside, i.e. God, there is also a love-theme repeated in "She Sustains Us", "The Closing Door" and "Pain", albeit not the youthful or inter-personal kind of love usually found in the genre. Rather it is introverted and dysfunctional e.g. the latter track ends with:

I hope you're cold
I hope you grow old
And never find love'

Which argueably is kind of antithetical to the records title.

Soundwise there are few new things happening compared to their earlier work. It is still guitar-driven indie rock with a clear 90s influence (Pavement, Dinosaur JR.), as well as some striking resemblances to London-based bands such as Yuck or The History of Apple Pie. Some subtle differences can however be traced: The tempo is up on some tracks, for example the aforementioned track "The Closing Door" which was released on an earlier EP, and the noise has been turned down a bit. Admittedly, there are just so many things you could do if you only have vocals, drumkit, bass and guitar. Still they stick within their genre and makes a solid Sub Pop debut with Return to Love.

Copyright © 2016 Jord Nylenna e-mail address

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