Acting as a respite from the celebrated strains of modern Australian underground music, Lower Plenty manage a deconstruction of folk music like none other: unsettled, unforgiving, unconcerned with what came before or what’s to follow. Acoustic guitars shuffle in and out of phase with one another, double-tracked vocals hover above in careful meter, brushed snare rattles the very frame of their sound, and then everything shifts again, and again. Comfort’s not long here, though beauty is maintained; melodies start sweet but turn inward, wane nostalgic and wax without resolve. Lyrics pawn regret out of the ordinary, drifting in and out of your consciousness like something heard in passing and reconstituted in a dream. Their sound demands your attention, to the point where gloved, spectral hands could very easily jump out of their music and grab you by the sides of your head.
Life/Thrills is the Melbourne group’s third full-length, and their collective experience (members play in a host of other bands, not limited to Total Control, The UV Race, Exhaustion, Deaf Wish and Dick Diver) will leave you thoroughly unprepared for the beautiful confusion suggested by these ten songs, which seem to have the power of slowing and even stopping time. Suitable comparisons to this music are as disparate as early Cat Power, Arab Strap, the Shrimper roster ca. 1992, the Sun City Girls, and the late ‘60s/early ‘70s output of the Red Crayola, but as with much truly original music, Lower Plenty resists direct comparison and defies expectation. Their shambling, discordant presence will relieve you of any preconceptions – this is one best experienced alone, as the sun fades into the horizon for the night.