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February 2020
Review

LVL UP - Return To Love

A step up that LVL UP have managed with ease.
LVL UP - Return To Love
Published: 9:51 am, September 23, 2016
A step up that LVL UP have managed with ease.

Label: Sub Pop
Released: September 23rd 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Newly signed to Sub Pop Records, New Yorkers LVL UP have lived up to their name on their third album ‘Return To Love’.

They’re a band who have been making waves in underground scenes for a few years now but this album represents their boldest and most definitive statement yet. LVL UP make traditional indie rock rooted in jagged melodies and ragged, crunching guitars but there’s a diversity and melodic sharpness at work here that comes from all four members writing background. Each track is cut from the same cloth but provides a different unique part of the overall pattern.

Opener ‘Hidden Driver’ is yearning and fevered while ‘Blur’s’ heady baggy rush is aptly titled as it sounds like it could easily come from the Britpop icons debut album ‘Leisure’. Elsewhere, things take on heavier proportions both musically and emotionally on the droning psych rock of ‘The Closing Door’ and ‘Pain’s’ exultant guitar climax.

Part of the charm of LVL UP is that nothing here sounds obvious or pristinely polished. Instead, the melodies slowly reveal themselves and the album offers up something different with each listen. The power pop rush of ‘I’ is probably the most immediate song but it still provides a number of twists and turns and insidious guitar riffs to keep you enthralled. The heavy, overpowering mantra of closing track ‘Naked In The River With The Creator’ points the way to even further development for a band who are moving quickly and opening their shoulders to show just what they can do.

It can be notoriously difficult for bands to navigate the step up from indie scene acclaim to wider established label acceptance but ‘Return To Love’ shows that it’s a step up that LVL UP have managed with ease. Martyn Young

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