I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking I’m premature, but Australia’s We Lost The Sea have produced one of the best albums of 2015. That’s a big statement, I understand the fact that there’s still five months of music to process, plus the stuff I’ve undoubtedly missed but it’s not every day that an album is this impressive across the board. Despite the fact I find bleaker, heavier music more enjoyable these days (chances are you’ll be reading some more doom reviews shortly, preferring the darker, blacker and more sinister sides of the metal industry), We Lost The Sea is one of the more uplifting records to be released from the underground Australian see. There’s an interesting story, full of emotion and growth. ‘Departure Songs’ isn’t a “happy” album per-se, rather it defines a period in the life of the musicians who crafted an album out of the darker moments as a band. As for ‘Departure Songs’ it’s more about an emotive listening experience than simply ticking all the right boxes. We Lost The Sea are the masters of bringing sound and intelligent song-writing together, the album is a ‘left of field beauty’ interacting directly with the listener, giving life to the music through individual context.
For most (especially if you’re a casual listener) you’ll be put off by the lack of vocals on ‘Departure Songs’, but it’s like only seeing a girl’s beauty skin deep; take a few moments to find out what makes We Lost The Sea tick. Ask about their favourite movies, take them out to dinner and see what a wonderful beauty this girl can be on the inside. It’s a stretching, cinematic repose drawing in the listener with crescendo after crescendo, letting the steam off slightly before giving you the climax you need. ‘Departure Songs’ is not a rushed affair, it takes time to create a bond this special and remember, you’re a dick and We Lost The Sea will still put up with your shit.
Casual comparisons aside, We Lost The Sea’s 2015 release is a galvanizing record. With six members, five tracks and an hour and eight minutes, ‘Departure Songs’ is an album of beauty, taking inspirations from the past, personal reflection, loss, hope and growth overcoming some serious topics. For a slightly more in depth look at ‘Departure Songs’ themes (and upcoming tour with Hope Drone) you can read my interview with (guitarist) Matt Harvey here: We Lost The Sea Interview.
At times albums like these can create such headaches for reviewers like me. Not because of the actual music, rather what it means to be listening to an album like this in the wake of a band members’ death. This may sound a little crude, but I feel like I’m missing out. I first started listening to We Lost The Sea’s “The Quietest Place On Earth” after Chris Torpy’s passing without knowing the man himself had left us. At the time I was thinking “these guys are less than three hours away from me, I’m getting to their next show”. We now know exactly why a next show was never announced under normal circumstances, and as much as the friends, family and band mates were feeling it I couldn’t help but feel robbed as a fan. I mean, what if Torpy was on this record? Would it be different musically? What would vocals add to these instrumental works? Would the overall theme be different for the band? It’s too hard to answer these questions all at once or even at all. Just know that Torpy will be missed by a larger group than those mentioned above.
‘Departure Songs’ isn’t just a great album for its back story. Highlights emerge throughout its hour-plus duration. Album opener, and the band’s lead single “A Gallant Gentleman” showcases the band’s overall talent as song writers, bringing in an outside choir (Mercy College Choir) to thicken and enhance the track. It’s a hell of a track but Matt Harvey explains that the album is expected to proceed in the same mood saying: “The whole thing is a collective of stories, forming it’s own story that is summed up by the last song, essentially. We love writing crescendos and giving the listener a pay off for sitting through long periods of somber and quiet. I think with the single, “Gallant”, is probably the most different to the other tracks on the record in that it’s shorter, simpler, more post rock orientated and really an opening track to a album full of sad yet triumphant songs laden with emotions we were feeling at the time.” The rest of the record continues the standard left by the opening track, “The Last Dive of David Shaw” continues with minimal noise, increasing tension and unsettling the listeners’ sub-conscious and lifting noise until sensual post rock cleans melt through the speakers. It’s a slow increase, building and building. Each layer is added and taken away as needed. At just under 17 minutes the track itself isn’t the album’s longest, but it does highlight the need for some level of patience that’s required to fully enjoy the album. We Lost The Sea have lost nothing in terms of song-writing ability.
Overall I’m glad that a band of this calibre could continue in these circumstances. It gives us reviewers hope that modern music will not always be ruled by the music released 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. We Lost The Sea aren’t making unique music by any stretch, but it is definitely their own. Take what you will from We Lost The Sea’s latest release, it’s an eye opener of sorts for fans wanting a continuation of music. For those just learning about this wonderful band, it’s accessible, enjoyable and has a lasting value to outweigh all others. ‘Departure Songs’ is sure to be featured in my End Of Year “Best Of 2015” feature.
We Lost The Sea are:
Mark Owen – Guitars
Matt Harvey – Guitars
Brendon Warner – Guitars
Kieran Elliott – Bass
Mathew Kelly – Piano, Keyboards
Nathaniel D’Ugo – Drums