Leading with emotive songwriting and a subtle eighties influence throughout, Land’s new EP Down By This River effectively introduces a band with a uniquely expressive lyrical and vocal backbone.
The title-track is the opener, breathing life into the room with delicate synths, melodies, an uplifting soundscape aura in general and a contrastingly lower toned, tired yet softly passionate vocal line. An addictive melody proceeds to weave its web around listeners, subtly but surely – it’s non-intrusive, but increasingly satisfying as it pours through. A great way to start.
Hateful follows and experimental sound-play steps up to the stage – we’re engulfed in water, a fuller soundscape and a spoken-word segment. It’s still the same project – the voice, the mood, the style – but already versatility is clear. Things evolve into a dance-inspired composition that’s beautifully hypnotic – where the opener seemed an early highlight, this one steps things up another few notches. We’re building a stronger image of the band and their style as things go on.
Afterwards, Anyway boldly injects a full eighties flavor – a Depeche Mode-esque dance-pop track with a mellow air of melancholy and reflection woven in amidst the high energy. Creative drum-work and other artistic touches really bring this to life.
Despite the natural, organic title of the EP, the playlist delivers a far more dream-like, sci-fi-soaked series of stories and moments on the whole. Take the bass-led energy and effects that storm through for D.B.T.R (A Ray Of Light). A great rhythm section, a great build-up, and the clever juxtaposition of a nearly whispered vocal lead. The music works hard here to tell the story, lyrics are minimal, and ultimately the whole thing does rise up into brightness like an uplifting ray of light.
The EP also includes two reworks, alternative versions of Hateful and Anyway, which actually feel like additional tracks in themselves. Then to finish things up, an electrified version of the title-track brings things to a notably up-front and aptly effected end. It’s an electronic dreamland of pulsating synths, but it’s spacious, and notably joyful.
All in all, Land strike as a decidedly creative act, undoubtedly lost in the moment for many of these recordings – a quality that can’t be faked, and often connects the best for the artist’s clear openness and connection to the process (and, thus, more naturally, the audience). Beautifully done.