The cover art of Seek Warmer Climes, the debut album of Danish post-punk band Lower, is an image of a man on the ground in a moment of utter distress. After listening to the album, it’s clear why Lower choose that visual. Over its ten tracks, Seek Warmer Climes, in one form or another, conveys utter emotional collapse — a bleak and unflinching portrait of losing faith in the world.
Lower were born of the same Danish punk scene that brought Iceage into the world. But while Iceage achieve emotional catharsis through an intense and noisy barrage of punk supplemented by short, lyrical bursts, Lower achieve their catharsis by going the opposite direction. Frontman Adrian Toubro’s vocals are upfront and center in every song, and in turn so are his lyrics. Toubro’s lyricism has improved considerably since the band’s initial EPs, and is much more expressive of his emotional tortures and sufferings.
This intensity is enhanced by his bandmates. The rhythm section is sturdy, providing both the pulse and tension in most of the songs. Simon Formann’s guitar playing is treble filled, shifting from firm to frantic at just the right moments.
Opener “Another Life” sets all of this in motion — the first words from the album declare the need to start over. Toubro’s delivery is passionate but stilted, giving his vocals a desperate quality that suits the album nicely.
This desperation becomes a central theme of the album. The false belief that perfecting physical appearance will achieve happiness is the core of “Lost Weight, Perfect Skin.” “Soft Option” speaks to the emotional whiplash of trying to hold together a collapsing relationship — and also happens to be one of the catchiest tracks on the album.
It is the album’s centerpiece, “Expanding Horizons (Dar es Salaam)” which most perfectly capture these emotions. Over the track’s seven minutes, Toubro recounts his attempt to perform aid work in Tanzania, only to become completely disillusioned by the experience. The track spirals further as the band fights to cling onto some shred of hope.
Using both melody and dissidence in equal force, Lower have crafted something that truly conveys emotional burden. The result of all of this is a constantly volatile work, one that feels like it could collapse at any moment under its own emotional weight.