EP REVIEW: LUMER – ‘Disappearing Act’: cathartic post-punk anger

THERE’S a lot of this kind of thing about. You know what I’m talking about – guitar bands with that spoken/singing thing going on. Think Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital and Idles, to name but a few of the groups dominating this second post-punk revival. Or is it the third?

Who knows? The point is that these sorts of bands are everywhere. Some are good and some are well, not-so-good, but luckily LUMER fall firmly in the former category. 

The four-piece from Hull, barely in their twenties, have been kicking around for a while now, with a previous EP and a UK and European tour already tucked under their belts.

Now the release of their seven-track EP, Disappearing Act, sees them perfect their sound in a powerful, scrappy lament of the modern world, complete with ranting vocals, propulsive drums, growling guitars, as well as some ominous synths thrown into the mix for good measure.

There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a well-trodden path that LUMER are walking as they draw on their wide-range of post-punk and gothic influences, but what sets them and the EP apart is the fact that they do it so bloody well.

The EP’s opener, “She’s Innocent”, has a measured rockabilly swing to it, a kind of woozy swagger that goes some way towards counteracting the gritty, atmospheric sound conjured by lead singer Alex Evan’s drawling cries, the loose twang of the bass and abrasive, snarling guitars. 

But it turns out “She’s Innocent” is just a warm-up act for the much faster and much louder title track that follows.

“Disappearing Act” has a propulsive, fiery bassline, strangely reminiscent of The Cure’s “The Lovecats”, overlaid with chiming, bright guitar riffs and Evans’ filtered vocals. These distorted cries sound as though Evans is yelling through a megaphone, attempting and failing to retain control of the rioting crowd of aggressive guitars as they jostle with the frantic drumbeat and squeals of feedback for centre stage. Its a battle of parts as various elements snatch your attention before the pace suddenly picks up, building into a raucous crescendo, with the whole affair stained with a melancholy courtesy of profound lyrics that reflect on a life of missed opportunities and regrets. 

“White Tsar’ was originally released as a single way back in 2019; unsurprisingly its subject matter, arbitrary leadership, hasn’t lost any relevance. Ostensibly inspired by the revolt against the despotic leader described in Oscar Wilde’s Vera, the track is obviously applicable to the tyrants of 2019, and today, yet ultimately uplifting in its celebration of people power in usurping those leaders. The changes in pace keep you on your toes too, adding an unpredictable edge as the track careers from lazier vocals over a lethargic, bare-basics beat through to skittering guitars and a faster, propulsive rhythm as it builds to its climax, with Evan’s voice sounding frankly deranged in the final, triumphant cries of “White Tsar has had his glory”. We’ve embedded “White Tsar” for you to get all dirty with down below.

Then it’s onto “First is Too Late”. Fast, hard and loud; it will make you long for the day it will be played live. It ends abruptly though, the thrashing guitars cleanly cut off and it’s straight into “By Her Teeth”, a track that Evans said was an excuse to emulate Nick Cave since the group had previously sought a Bad Seeds kind of sound.

“By Her Teeth”certainly nails the raw, emotional side of the Nick Cave checklist with an almost overwhelming narrative account of a turbulent relationship, a song that by virtue of both subject matter and its story-like lyrics, would be most at home on the Murder Ballads album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s back catalogue. It also marks a shift in the EP to something slower, opening with just drums and eerie synths that slip between a few notes in a somewhat melodramatic, 70s-horror-movie kind of way. Not for long though. From this unsettling backdrop, brooding, sultry guitars build-up as the story unravels, with Jacob Wardle demonstrating his skill as the drums explode into a frenetic yet unsettlingly precise attack on your eardrums.

Its followed by “Sheets”, a dirge-like song about heartbreak. Fittingly, the synths return to wail in the background like a Greek chorus for this track, whilst the angular, power of the guitars has been replaced by a languid, mournful, droning instead. 

Then the EP closes with “Another Day At The Zoo”, a track that is musically less interesting – but remains just as gripping as the rest of Disappearing Act. It centres around a low, thudding, beat, over which Evans spews out the problems of the world, of Britain’s bleak xenophobia and poverty, as well as global environmental issues, all in a spoken delivery that is inevitably reminiscent of Mark E. Smith. It’s one of those tracks where every syllable counts, not a word goes to waste as every line hits home with an embarrassing accuracy. “British bombs dropped on minors, but that’s not on Love Island”; “I’ve witnessed white privileged opinion and it’s posted all over social media’s delirium”; I could go on, but I’d end up recounting every line.

A referral to sexual assault is also included in this diatribe, and its a theme that crops up more in LUMER’s back catalogue too, something that establishes the group as refreshingly aware in a predominantly male and sometimes hyper-masculine scene, especially given recent revelations regarding grooming and sexual assault in indie-rock.

And so, these verses on “Another Day At The Zoo” allow the anger to bubble up and brew before the purging release comes in the apoplectic cries of “Is this what the world is coming to?”, followed by a psychotic burst of anger as Evans and the guitars simultaneously scream. 

Its an admittedly bleak end to the EP; a near-apocalyptic warning to complete the stories of tyrannical rulers, heartbreak and wasted years, but there’s no denying its cathartic power. And with the track, and Disappearing Act as a whole, LUMER have well and truly staked their claim to a place in the crowded post-punk pantheon. 

LUMER’s Disappearing Act will be released digitally on January 29th and is available to pre-save here.

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