Lost Under Heaven - Love Hates What You Become - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lost Under Heaven - Love Hates What You Become

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2019-01-18
Lost Under Heaven - Love Hates What You Become
Lost Under Heaven - Love Hates What You Become

The first time I heard Ellery James Roberts sing, I legitimately thought it was speaking-in-tongues style chanting – mostly gibberish or even just singing in syllables rather than actual words. When he fronted the beloved indie rock outfit WU LYF back in 2011, I struggled to appreciate what Roberts was attempting. Fast forward to 2019 to his newest offering under the Lost Under Heaven (formerly LUH) moniker, and his approach to vocals has smoothed out. Distancing himself from the throaty, indecipherable style of WU LYF, he keeps some of it intact, but right as “Come” begins it becomes apparent that Roberts has grown from those beginnings.

Love Hates What You Become takes the formula of his previous record Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing from 2016 and glosses up the production, and opens his voice more, making the sophomore record a much more accessible listen. Contemporaries like King Krule have done the same thing over the years – like how a black metal band will incorporate more clean vocals as they get older, well after they’ve established themselves as a growling bunch of feral beasts.

“Come” features Roberts delivering a dance-rock banger, right up there with the dance-punk stylings of Death From Above or an early days TV on the Radio, and features an anthemic chorus prime for radio plucking. Over the course of its 4 minutes, “Come” is already miles beyond what anything off of Go Tell Fire to the Mountain ever was, which may disappoint the devotees of WU LYF, but seems like a necessary progression for Roberts. The inclusion of his masterful secret weapon also returns to the fray – Ebony Hoorn, the visual artist who provided several contributions to the last record. Here, Hoorn takes over in multiple instances like the early highlight “Bunny’s Blues” which feels like a brooding post-punk cut from New Order, but if New Order was fronted by someone like Chelsea Wolfe.

Hoorn even outfoxes Roberts often on the record, making Lost Under Heaven more of a duo than the previously marketed solo project from Roberts. Hoorn’s vocals are striking, and help balance the record’s more tantric moments. And while he may have veered towards the legible, Roberts’ singing still has moments of head-scratching. It’s just less distracting here as he screeches across the record in wonderful, flourishing moments like on “The Breath of Light” when he croons “I feel life break beneath the waves, but I won’t let them hold me down, no more.”

Lost Under Heaven has managed to expand on their sound, and it works so well on Love Hates What You Become beautifully, and it’s comforting to see the project develop from a solo to a duo so comfortably. Both artists balance the record, such as Hoorn’s solo minimalistic “Black Sun Rising” which feels like an Angel Olsen-inspired arrangement circa-Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

At the center of the record, the two come together for the best cut – the title track features a harmonized duet, over a simple acoustic guitar and various strings in the background. And while Hoorn might get the most credit here as her vocals are more pleasing, Roberts does no slouching, offering a sharp deviation with his delivery. The crazy thing is that on this ballad-esque centerpiece is that it works so well.

Lost Under Heaven have really come into their own with Love Hates What You Become and presented a record that’s robust and enjoyable. It won’t bring the die-hard WU LYF’ers much joy, but Roberts has left that project in the dust and crafted something a bit more digestible. It doesn’t position itself as a genre-defining moment, but instead acts as a worthy follow-up, and further solidifies the duo as a force to be reckoned with.

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