Review Summary: "In my mind you had no legs to stand on..."
Whatever Sarah meant by the line in the closer ’Close Enough’, it definitely doesn’t apply to Lower Plenty
as the music on Hard Rubbish
stands well on its own. Which is something of a miracle, really, considering the term ‘indie’ these days has become a pejorative for the faceless and spoiled Animal Collective crowd waving their Manchester Orchestra shirts at me at every corner. That’s not to say that the material found on Hard Rubbish borders on nothing short of groundbreaking, but its somber charm and irresistible aura of innocence and immediacy is a welcome change from the undeservingly pretentious stuff we’re all used to by now. What the hell happened to simple music? Can‘t we just forget our everyday struggles, shut out the urgent outside world and listen to a simple-minded song like ’Strange Beast’ that would make us throw our clenched fists into the air and dance around the campfire while repeating lines like "loneliness in the biggest killer of them all..."?
Hard Rubbish offers you such escape. Starting off with the moaning ordinary man anthem ‘Work in the Morning’, the record lets you know right away that no handkerchiefs or head scratching will be required. Gentle guitar plucking and instantly relatable lyrics wonderfully complement the somber but oddly joyful vocal harmonies between Sarah Heyward and Al Montfort. On Hard Rubbish, everything is laid out, nothing is hidden from view, partly also due to the delicate production that keeps things low key enough for us to drift away while still giving the smallest damn of what’s going on. The stripped nature of Hard Rubbish permeates its every facet, whether it’s the barely audible drum work in ‘Strange Beast’, lazy echo of the lonely guitar in Grass or the alt country-ish vibe rampant through ‘Dirty Flowers’. ‘Close Enough’ is the standout here, a slow-burning closer that wraps up the album in an oddly atmospheric manner, with thin cymbal crashes resonating through emotion-laden guitar feedback and repetitive acoustic strumming.
I guess reviews for albums like these should be topped off with the generic "album is human“ talk, but handing out any other status would not be doing it justice. Put this on, turn the volume down and hopefully the rubble displayed on the album cover is the last disturbing thing that you‘ll encounter here.