Review Summary: lender's guilt.Kill the Lights
, the 1997 release from noise rock outfit lowercase, is deceptively easy to describe yet understated in its complexities. Much like every noisy post-whatever band during the 90s, lowercase was undoubtedly influenced and inspired by Slint’s Spiderland
, a seminal exploration in dynamic manipulation. If Slint are the bankers then lowercase act as the investors, naive as to how subservient they are to their brokers yet unique and resourceful enough to make the loan a worthwhile enterprise. Bumbling analogies aside, this album feels borrowed and repetitive, yet the band members are completely okay with that. In fact, they thrive within monotony as evident with the first track ‘She Takes Me’, a 5 minute burner that builds upon a clamorous groove and some eerie vocals. Almost every song follows this same pattern: establishing a brooding and oblique guitar riff, crescendoing or de-crescendoing over the course of 5+ minutes, and sensitively tweaking the rhythm section until the track is sufficiently jammed out. At only seven songs, however, the album is never obvious in its formula, making subsequent listens even more revealing and exciting.
The final two tracks can simply be seen as either an extension of the songwriting blueprint or as something much more sinister and prolific. ‘Rare Anger’ is an apt title for the despondent song, one that dwells in its own silent fury only to briefly have its built up animosities surface in the form of desperate yells and clattering cymbals. Honestly, lowercase could’ve left its listener completely satisfied if they just ended it there, but closing track ‘You’re a King’ gradually unearths its vitality to the album. It embraces a sludgier aesthetic while testing the concept of patience, taking 5 minutes for the vocalist to emerge out of his dread-filled slumber. “Girl you’re a king // waive your rights
” are the only two lines to materialize out of the 12-minute piece, contrasting with the rest of the songs’ lyrical prose. For what reason? I’m not sure, but whatever message lead singer Imaad Wasif is attempting to get across, it is vehemently important to him, signified by the harshest vocal performance on the record. It’s impressive how authentic and subversive Kill the Lights
is considering the amount debt it has inherited. With this album, lowercase begrudgingly exhibits the art of borrowing and altering with the craftsmanship and finesse of a numb and experienced con-artist. How fitting.