History repeats itself. This is especially true in fashion and music. A new generation unearths something from the past that resonates with their thoughts and feelings, they give it a twist and add something of their own and then unleash the new old on the world. We have seen it in recent years in the music world with new waves of thrash, proto doom, occult rock and synthwave. Less Win have taken a different route.
The Copenhagen trio have just released their third album entitled “Given Light” which is a Spanish expression for giving birth. This album follows guitarist Casper Morilla spending recent years studying Flamenco guitar which features throughout. The band have stated that they recorded this album using a “tabula rasa” approach – which is a poncy way of saying that they went into the studio with nothing prepared and wrote on the spot.
Poncy or not the results are great. “Given Light” harks back to a time when alternative music was exactly that When things were put together differently and the ears were challenged and soothed in equal parts with plenty to dance to. Think Husker Du. Think Gang of Four. Think Birthday Party. Think The Fall and Roxy Music and you have a good idea of what these guys offer. At times abrasive like the opener Tunnel which has the twanging guitars of Gang of Four and the agit prop vocals of Idles. The Hanging has a whiff of Stranglers about it but also sounds like it could come straight off a 4AD comp from 1983. The jangling guitars carry the sound of a summer spent drinking purple witches in a dusty pub garden.
“I’ve Been Convinced” has a vocal that sounds like Nick Cave doing a Bryan Ferry impression which should be hilarious but it works. The drums are a martial beat and the guitars jangle like Johnny Marr in parts. “Truth Like Roses” is Bauhaus after antidepressants whilst “Root & Branch reminds me a little of Publicist U and Echo and the bunnymen..
If it is true that the band wrote the 11 tracks of Given Light in the studio then they truly struck gold. It sounds beautifully spiky, fresh yet retro and a strange mix of urban grey and euphoric sunshine. History of Hope has a beautiful female backing vocal which lifts the coarse lead vocal and gives the melancholy an ethereal air. In contrast “Man of My Time” is a horn-filled toe tapper that you can twist to should you so wish or even hand jive. The not too loud shouted vocals ooze early Paul Weller whilst Passion’s Puppet and Putting In the Hours are filled with gothic post punk swagger.
Bringing things to a halt is The WIld Desires which is a marvelously haphazard freeform cacophony that owes much to the various incarnations of one Nick Cave.
Less Win have filtered a very interesting and oft forgotten period of post punk through modern day sensibilities and created a fine record that aids both the nostalgic ear and a future seeker one. Definitely worth a listen.
(8/10 Matt Mason)