It’s hard to imagine any one person listening to slowcore exclusively. There is most definitely a mood and a headspace one must be in to appreciate the genre and spend any considerable amount of time enjoying albums by bands like Low, Cigarettes After Sex, Bedhead, Slint etcetera. Patience must also be considered. How much of it do you have? How much will you need? When the sadness sets in, there are bands and albums that absolutely, in that moment, comfortingly and satisfyingly scratch that most melancholic emotional itch. Having only gotten together in the last five years, the London band deathcrash is among the newest of these acts. Less, deathcrash’s second full-length album, delivers seven tracks in just under forty minutes, which feels like an appropriate amount of time for a record with songs this unhurried and wistful.
We’re halfway into “Pirouette”, Less’ seven-minute opener, before the album’s first vocals are heard and the band finally begin to lay out something more than what has heretofore resembled a moody soundcheck. Less’ third song, “Duffy’s”, makes for a decent moment, the highlight of which brings a plaintive yet hopeful chorus that has Tiernan Banks, the band’s singer (who somehow manages to have a voice that can be described as both nasally and whispery), and one of his bandmates doing a gentle call and response over some lovely guitar interplay just before a heavy, emotive ending. The instrumental “And Now I Am Lit” takes advantage of its predecessor’s momentum and manages to carry with it some beautiful guitar work. After this pair of songs, however, there’s little positive to report.
“Distance Song” features Banks’ most emphatic singing. But as he sustains the last word in each line of his sad lyrics, the vocalist’s increased oral emphasis only accentuates his annoyingly adenoidal tone. Less is bookended by another seven-plus-minute moment, the doomy, crunchy “Dead, Crashed”. After some mournful, distorted chords, and just before the track’s halfway point, Banks starts screaming. But instead of sounding upset and angry, it just comes across as ridiculous and unnecessary, maybe even hilarious. The track’s final minutes restore “Dead, Crashed” to a measured, downcast style more akin to what we’ve endured up to this point. Still, it does little to save this largely disappointing collection. The next time you find yourself craving something slow and sad, maybe pull out a record by a sadcore band that’s stood the test of time. Deathcrash still has a way to go.