Lower Plenty

The fourth album from Lower Plenty sees the band still locked into a grab bag of styles tied together with the nervy swagger of Al Montfort’s songwriting. Lacking a bit of the bite and snap of Montfort’s release with Terry earlier in the year or the emotional punch and pop sheen of Dick Diver, his work with Lower Plenty still finds a way to burrow under the skin. Sister Sister‘s mixtape appeal is probably its greatest strength rather than a knock on its lack of cohesiveness. Shifting on and off between vocal duties, Montfort and Sarah Heyward both have a penchant for leaning back into a song, delivering their takes from an apparent reclining position and captured to a fortuitously rolling tape. Perhaps the band’s notion as kind of a respite between other projects, recording takes in a kitchen studio when they chance to meet up, gives light to some of its true appeal. The songs don’t sound like a vacation from anything in particular, but freeing themselves from projects with more expectations allows ideas and styles to flow freely from breezy jangle to avant squawks of strings and horns.

As such the album winds through calm eddies and tense moments. The easy jangle of “Bondi’s Dead” and “So It Goes” crumble under the tinfoil toothache of “Ravesh,” one of the record’s definite highlights. Elsewhere they embrace their home recording ethos completely with some hum flecked moments that feel so close mic-ed that they practically sing from your ear canal on “Cursed By Numbers”. The atmosphere of the surrounding house is felt on most tracks though, as if the band might halt and discuss takes at any moment, and it gives the record an intimate electricity that’s more purposely confessional than (the now dreaded) lo-fi. Lower Plenty isn’t as polished as many other Montfort projects, but in lifting the veil of the studio and inviting the listener in, it still hits hard enough to leave a mark on the skin when it claps to a close.

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