Prefix hip you to what’s coming out of their computer speakers each week.
When listening to Lower Dens, an image of a pale, slightly evil twin materializes in your mind, the enigmatic counterpart to hometown compatriots Beach House.
Vocalist Jana Hunter possesses a bewitching voice with an unsuspecting prowess, ethereal and authoritative all the same. Inevitably harkening back to Baltimore’s own Victoria Legrand, Hunter’s vocals carry a weight that differs from the dream pop duo entirely. It’s one that’s been garnered from the eerie hours of the morning, where a limbo between dream and reality is more than palpable.
Lower Dens’ latest release “Nootropics” combines a certain ghostliness with nostalgia, creating a sonic complexity that is impossible to replicate. “Brains” features a gradual, Krautrock-esque build before exploding into a crescendo of drums and wailing keys. “Candy” is less sweet and more a menacing glow, radiant and frightening all the same.
The instrumental “Lion in Winter Pt. 1” crystallizes slowly, the ambience of roaring guitars creating a surrealist, distant world that still maintains fragments of familiarity. “Propagation” grows in shapeless volumes, billowing like plumes of smoke from a burning building. Chilling “Nova Anthem” is entrenched in a deep isolation, enhanced by Hunter’s astounding range of vocals.
That’s perhaps the defining element of “Nootropics” — a sense of alienation that’s present within a space you’ve always known. The place feels familiar, yet it’s changed. With moaning guitars, a strong presence of keys and Hunter’s opaque vocals, Lower Dens are creating sounds that encapsulate the weird divide that both separates and intertwines two distinct dualities, the strange and the familiar.
— by Paula Mejia