The cover of the new album from Letting Up Despite Great Faults depicts two thin arms reaching out, their image slightly distorted by the pool of water they seem to be in. It’s a great visual metaphor for the group’s music. Untogether filters sweet, slightly danceable electro-pop songs through a dreamy haze. The songs are still recognizable for all their main parts, but there’s a liquid-y feel to them, as if you’re hearing them through a gently flowing river. The effect is like combining the twee indie-pop of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart with the warm synthesized colors of Gui Boratto, and it certainly sounds like very little else currently being produced by Austin musicians.
Some of this may be due to the fact that LUDGF are only recently Austin musicians. Until earlier this year, the quartet was based out of Los Angeles, but moved here prior to the recording and release of their second LP, Untogether. Frontman Mike Lee has said that he just needed some separation from LA, and Austin is undoubtedly that. As Austin has hopefully given him fresh eyes on his music, LUDGF are something fresh for Austin music. Pure X and Sleep Over are the only Austin bands that make this kind of dreamy shoegaze.
The problem with this genre, for me, is that in order to attain the desired aesthetic the lyrics are often sacrificed. It’s hard to make out the words on many of the tracks on Untogether – instead, there are only random words or phrases that jump out from the mix. Lee’s voice (and that of singer Annah Fisette) instead softly coos through the musical bed, never vacillating much in emotion or tone. It’s remarkably effective for creating their dream-like sound, but it means that the songs are often hard to distinguish from one another.
Still, there are standout moments across the album. “Postcard” begins with a marked urgency, while “Bulletproof Girl” does its best M83 impression and delivers with a killer melodic line and gorgeous song. “The Best Part” takes a break from its 80s revivalism to offer an infectious rhythm section breakdown while Lee sings “The best part is you / if you’d just stick around.” And the album closes with “On Your Mark” – an acoustic number that heavily recalls Beck’s “The Golden Age.”
It’s a very pretty album to listen to, creating a cohesive sound from top to bottom that you could either chill out to or actively dance to. LUDGF make a great addition to an already rich music scene here in Austin by bringing something different for us. You can purchase the album in many forms via the Internet and you can catch them live on Sunday, November 18th at the Cedar Street Courtyard as part of the Austin Fan Fest.