WE LOST THE SEA, Triumph & Disaster (B.R.R., 2019)
PERSONNEL: Matt Harvey (guitars); Mark Owen (guitars); Carl Whitbread (guitars); Kieran Elliott (Bass); Mathew Kelly (piano and synths); Nathaniel D’Ugo (drums)
- A Beautiful Collapse
- Parting Ways
- Distant Shores
- The Last Sun
- Mother’s Hymn
While any album a band releases should be judged by its own merit, I would be personally remiss if I didn’t confess right away to being unable to hear We Lost the Sea’s Triumph & Disaster without at least a sideways glance to the band’s previous album, Departure Songs, which I deemed perfect in its own right.
And while this album could very well be the second volume in an epic musical trilogy (if my interview with Mark Owen is any indication), it must be said here and now that Triumph & Disaster is NOT Departure Songs. And that is completely okay.
While its predecessor dealt with the tragedies that can result from heroism, T&D tells the tale of a world on the brink of death (due to a lack of personal heroism), as seen through the eyes of a mother and son enjoying their last day on the planet. If that isn’t dire enough, the tale comes in the form of a children’s poem. (Said poem comprises the art included with the CD’s packaging.)
The music behind this tale matches its theme. It is stark and confrontational, right from the opening strains/feedback of “Towers,” which wastes no time muscling its way into the listener’s musical psyche. Where Departure Songs offered a touch of post-rock delicacy before bringing forth a metal-tinged musical onslaught, T&D wastes no time dropping the musical hammer. Even when “A Beautiful Collapse” hints at a return to prior form, the notion is quickly struck down in favor of the new aesthetic. There is no escaping this musical fate.
“Dust” is the panoramic view of a world undone by its inhabitants. “Parting Ways” and “Distant Shores” point our heroes toward their ultimate destiny (even as they make the most of a wonderful day), with its guitar-driven strains propelling them toward their tragic inevitability, even if it does so beautifully. We seem to have no choice but to accept our fate in “The Last Sun,” where the mother allows herself to express regret for past decisions made on behalf of those who chose not to leave a habitable world for their children after generations of greed, environmental indifference, and overconsumption. As “Mother’s Hymn” fades into the ether, we find ourselves staring into the abyss asking the question we should have asked long before: “Isn’t there something we can do? Are we really too late?”
Triumph & Disaster is a heavy record both musically and thematically, and we are left feeling each and every ounce. We are meant to feel a sense of urgency on both a human and musical level. The music is dark and claustrophobic, even when it seems to be at its lightest. The album’s theme is too “in your face” to ignore (much like the music itself), and only the most soulless can push past the image of the dying day of a mother and son without having it touch something deep inside.
To be certain, We Lost the Sea did not create an album merely designed to follow-up Departure Songs. Rather, the band is asking you to think on what you do daily — and how it will affect the destiny of others — before its too late. And in that, Triumph & Disaster knocks it out of the park.
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