This Lost Dawn article was written by Stephen Butchard, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Tim Burden.
Nostalgia tripping isn’t always a bad thing in music. Bands like Spiritualised have made whole careers out of reviving beloved ideas of the past, while Tame Impala and Neon Indian have become respected artists through their earnest pastiches of dated concepts. Still, there’s no denying that revivalism is a tricky road to navigate without coming off as insincere or superficial; many bands engaging in rad retro aesthetics come off about as authentic as an Instagram filter.
Thankfully, sincerity is something Lost Dawn have never had to worry about. The Cornwall based outfit had already nailed their scuzzy glam-rock persona on their charmingly ragged debut. Stanley Duke’s warbling vocal is oozing with charisma, harkening back to artists like Mark Bolan in its intoxicated cadences. Their playfully dated melodies are delivered with a giddy sense of passion that makes it clear the band care about the sounds they emulate. With their follow up ‘Fever‘ the band bring varied writing and colourful production in an ambitious show of maturity.
Released just a few months after their first record, the mini-album ‘Fever’ sees Duke and drummer Benjamin Woods joined by bassist Joel McConkey (also of the Isabelles) whose loose, unkempt basslines provide a new sense of fullness to the band’s sound.
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This fullness radiates from the songs too. The title track is an expansive psych-rock jam that progresses nicely, with ragged, morphing guitar riffs, fuzzed out breakdowns and meandering solos that weave in and out as the track approaches its finish. Conversely, ‘Naked Lunch’ is a no-BS garage rock cut that playfully flirts with Strokes-style guitar riffs and tight, propulsive drumming. Duke’s lyrics are at their most enigmatic here, with whimsical French mumbling filling in a space right after he admits his regrets of not learning another language. His apathetic waster persona gives a sense of purpose to the band’s amateurish approach to recording.
There’s no doubt that Lost Dawn are pushing forward with something more ambitious than your average DIY rock band, but at times, their songs feel too derivative to fall in love with. The opening track ‘Electrify’, is a fun (if slightly grating) indie-rock tune, but the chorus never sticks in the way it should, while its campy melody line feels slightly too on the nose in its attempt to appear like it’s from the sixties.
Like Cage the Elephant and Ty Segall before them, the band revel in their own retroisms, but ‘Fever’ isn’t immediate or punchy in a way that would make their overdone style feel less irritating. ‘Construction Rock’ has a charming barebones appeal, but the formulaic guitar chugging and forced dishevelled vocal have been churned out too many times to stomach.
At points, Lost Dawn feel more like a cover band, but one covering a sound as opposed to an artist. For those looking for no-frills, late 60’s/early 70’s flavoured rock music, this won’t matter too much. Others might be underwhelmed.
‘Fever’ will be released on the February 5th via Easy Action Records.