Review Summary: Loma Prieta release one of the messiest efforts of the year.
Before writing this review I had to go reintroduce myself to Loma Prieta’s best effort to date, their debut LP Last City
. During that session I pulled up a neat Nick Greer review and went to work learning that Loma Prieta used to be more interesting with odd time signatures and their recombination (DNA extraction and reassembling) techniques of other genres all in fruitful display, but a question arose as I started writing. Have they ever been this good? Well in short no, although they dropped a bit of the Ampere
shtick so Nick may say otherwise, but Life / Less
is a force to be reckoned with. The days of power pop riffs sliding underneath their frenetic dashes of grind, post-rock and hardcore are unfortunately less abound. But while the experimentation has all but gone by the wayside, Loma Prieta have opted for a stronger style with little recombination, and embrace a more focused effort giving the band the identity they so desperately needed.
The categorizing of Loma Prieta’s newest LP may grow to be a bit of a misnomer; the emotional characteristics are still as present as they ever were, see Dark Mountain
, but how they are arranged feel more fashioned towards the hardcore and in some instances the grindcore crowd for lack of a better term emo powerviolence. Thunderous melodies and distortion that would drive White Noise enthusiasts crazy Life / Less
becomes one of the messiest releases of the year – and I love it
. How do we find beauty in something that is so messy? For the unabashed, art is completely subjective and one man’s trash is almost certain to be another’s treasure. This is not meant to consider Life / Less
trash as it is far from such a generality. Nonetheless it is meant to evoke the notion that for a majority of its seventeen minute length Life / Less
is a screamo rendition of “Stomp”. Though things are hardly as discernible as the mega Broadway hit; I imagine the intended static/fuzz throughout the album is a thanking to their 90’s contemporaries (basically any act signed to Gravity Records). Albeit, when things finally do crystalize on the airwaves it elicits feelings of a faint reality, take notice to the subway engine screeching across the tracks after the abrasive sixty seconds that precede it on “Dark Mtn”.
Each song runs an average of two minutes, and this is just enough time for the guys to start their engines in fifth gear and zoom-zoom on out. “Closenessless” feels like the middle of a song at its intro; as it cascades its way through dynamic riff changes and vocals with extreme tenacity one might wonder how the band could mange putting an end to their momentum. This is where the beauty is to be had. The contrast Loma Prieta employs between their indecipherable violent moments (“Lost Bridge”) border on the sporadic confines of Mesa Verde
, which serve as excellent segues to somber moments of reprieve or gentle outros bandaging the head rush of the minutes before it. Life / Less
finally hits the stride Loma Prieta had been thirsting for their entire five year career. In releases prior the band picked apart several bands they admired, and for the most part they were successful in their mimicking. With Life / Less
they take it one step farther employing the mechanics of simpler genres within their comfort range and expand on their full potential. With future releases one should expect the envelope to pushed further with new ideas to unfold now that the band have honed in on their identity; such hope already exists with the stunning closer given here – “Apparition”.