L.S. Dunes – Past Lives

An album that grows in grandeur with each listen...

Dunes day is finally upon us; in an armageddon blaze of glory, L.S. Dunes are forging the future of post-hardcore from the ashes of their ‘Past Lives’.  With members of Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, My Chemical Romance, Saosin and Thursday (and more!) involved, it would be an injustice to call the collective merely star-studded. The line-up of musical minds at play is staggering – ‘Past Lives’ is a true supernova of refined, catastrophic cynicism. Grand, multi-faceted and introspective, L.S. Dunes have served up an album that spits in the face of disaster – ‘Past Lives’ refuses to go down without a fight. 

First and foremost, this album is a place of refuge – albeit in a rather unconventional manner. A tragic beauty is stitched into the record, cries of impermanence bleak yet oddly comforting. This air of sharp-yet-welcoming realism is a thread throughout, opening track ‘2022’ immediately hinting at disaster as Anthony Green howls “if I can’t make it til 2022, at least we’ll see how much I can take…” The tragedy whirls on track, instrumentals drowning in despair as Green’s broken vocals sink you in even further, yet the knowledge that we have already reached 2022 twists the song into something far more complex. There’s a retrospective sigh of relief – you’re faced with what once was disastrous, with the assured knowledge that this is very much a ‘Past Life’. 

By opening on this insightful level of reflection, every shriek of desolation that follows somehow resists outright pessimism. ‘Grey Veins’ blisteringly cool haze is initially bleak and brooding, yet Green’s croons of “I don’t wanna kill time like it doesn’t matter” are unconventionally optimistic. Tracks like ‘It Takes Time’ also serve as perfect reminders of the emo influence woven into the project; with howls of “tendons bare, all pins and needles, I can feel it everywhere” bleeding into calls of “matter over mind”, the devastating poeticism of 00’s emo balances out pain and hopeful forward-thinking perfectly.

But, with all this talk of optimism, that doesn’t mean that pain is ever softened, ignored or glossed over – quite the opposite. The true glory of this record comes in its unabashed capturing of pain and bitterness, yet still finding the strength to look beyond it. The glorious, rumbling riffs and raging drums of stand-out track ‘Permanent Rebellion’ rile with pain and suffering, Green’s vocals exposed, rubbing salt in the wound and then some. 

Beyond all of this, however, the true magic of ‘Past Lives’ is in how much it grows in grandeur with each listen. Every loop welcomes in another opportunity to dig into another layer at play – taking note of the Thursday-tinged drums or My Chem-worthy riffs. Tracks like the raw, exposed ‘Antibodies’ or the textural ‘Grifter’ highlight the talents of every mind at play. The combination of talent results in tracks that undeniably glow, quietly masterful. And tracks like the woozy, atmospheric ‘Sleep Cult’ are sharp contrasts to what one might expect from the collective, allowing the pack of fiends to serve up soundscapes that other projects may not be able to explore.

‘Past Lives’ is a mighty burst of refined post-hardcore. There’s a maturity to the album that is almost understated, a quiet certainty that not everything has to be loud, growling and in-your-face to be masterful. This is an album that grows in grandeur with each listen, layers unravelling with every replay. So why waste any time – the sooner you dig in, the better.


Words: Emily Swingle

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