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Album Review
 
The Lost Poets - Insubordia Album Cover

The Lost Poets - Insubordia

Reviewed by
7.0
The Lost Poets - Insubordia
Release Date: April 17, 2014
Record Label: Self-Released
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
At their best, the Lost Poets, a duo from Stockholm, Sweden that makes dark, sludgy “swamp blues,” sound like Pearl Jam; at their worst, the band sounds like Creed. At least, that’s what many modern listeners would tell you. For whatever reason, this type of fuzzy, distorted, guitar-heavy music gets filed under “butt rock” for a lot of people nowadays. It happened with the recent Gaslight Anthem album, and it would happen with the Lost Poets new EP, a solid collection of dingy rock tunes called Insubordia, if the collection ever got a substantial amount of mainstream attention.

But “butt rock” is not a term that can be used to describe a song as simultaneously moody and forceful as “Ode to K,” this record’s opening salvo and definitive cut. The song, which multi-tracks loud buzz-saw electric guitar riffs and ragged acoustic strums on the same notes and rhythms, creates a haunting and unsettling atmosphere from note one. When the guitars drop out at the mid-section, leaving just vocalist David Rosengren and a chiming, reverb-drenched piano that sounds like it’s being strummed and gutted from the inside rather than played from the outside, the song hits a higher peak. Let’s make one thing clear: bands like Nickelback and Creed don’t employ instrumental arrangements that are this interesting.

If Rosengren sounds like the grimmest fella alive during “Ode to K,” that’s probably because he is. We’ve all heard songs about dying, selling your soul to the devil, and standing before the gates of hell before, but “Ode to K” is interesting for the strangely down-to-earth approach it takes to this familiar, dark, and supernatural subject matter. In essence, the song plays out like a before-and-after comparison, between the life the narrator knew before he died and everything that happened to him afterwards. As a result, "Ode to K" ends up being a split-minded narrative, between this guy’s true-life love story and his hellish afterlife. The song and its dramatic story arc won’t do anything for listeners who aren’t into this brand of sludgy, Queens of the Stone Age-esque post-grunge, but it’s straight up the alley for those who consider that stuff their bread and butter.

The fact that Insubordia opens with “Ode to K” is both the disc’s greatest strength and its most substantial weakness. On one hand, the song is a brilliant slow-burning opener, one that helps set the dim and dynamic mood that this record cultivates throughout, as well as one that will draw listeners in immediately. On the other hand, none of the other songs reach quite the same heights, which means that Insubordia ends up following a law of diminishing returns throughout its tracklist.

That’s not to say that the rest of Insubordia is throwaway filler, though. On the contrary, the thrashing riff of “Lying Down” is brilliantly disorienting, with the skipping vinyl clicks that close the song only adding to the ambiance of the disc. Meanwhile, the splendid “Die to Love” starts out on acoustic guitar, giving the Lost Poets a chance to construct the volcanic intensity that defines their music in a quieter and subtler environment. Eventually, though, the song builds to a to a swinging electric guitar break and explodes into a dynamic extended outro. An intriguing vocal effect touches Rosengren’s voice for the song’s second half, making him sound almost like a crazed person shouting from the bottom a deep cave, while the guitars layer one over the other for a near-symphonic feel. Like the rest of the record, the song excels most at serving up surprises and left-turns aplenty.

Insubordia somewhat loses its way after those first three songs, stalling a bit on the title track, which plays like a less successful structural repeat of “Die to Love.” A repetitious guitar lick loops for almost the entire song, and Rosengren’s voice is filtered through a new vocal effect, though unfortunately it’s more effective at making the song sound like a demo than it is at adding to the atmospheric feel of the record. “Insubordia” finally stops sounding amateurish thanks to a forceful crescendo near the end of the song, but even that moment fails to excite or surprise because the band used a similar structure on the preceding track. A spoken word outro called “Inside the Cage” regains the creepy ambiance of the first three tracks, but it’s not as effective as it could have been because the dull and shapeless title track pulls you out of the record.

It’s a shame when a good EP is undone slightly by one less-than-great track. After all, a single misstep shouldn’t really impact the overall quality of an album, but when you only have four full-length songs, it does exactly that. Still, Insubordia is a decent collection of songs from a talented band that truly has the ability to do the unexpected with their music. I’m guessing that their best work is ahead of them, but with the top songs on this record, the Lost Poets are already showing that they may just have the potential to stand alongside their audible idols and influences someday.

Additional InformationThe Lost Poets Are...
David Rosengren: vocals, guitar
Petter Ossian Strömberg: drums, bass

Tracklist:
1. Ode to K
2. Lying Down
3. Die to Live
4. Insubordia
5. Inside the Cage

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Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
12:38 PM on 08/26/14
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Jason Tate
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These new review pages sure look purdy.
08:16 PM on 08/26/14
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Craig Manning
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These new review pages sure look purdy.
They sure do! Good work.
09:37 AM on 08/28/14
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suicidalmoose
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Is the user rating in the reviews gone for good? Not that it mattered much, just wondering. Anyway this design looks a lot better!
09:46 AM on 08/28/14
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Boucher187
Jonathan "Mox" Moxon
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These new review pages sure look purdy.
Nice Job Jason. Looks awesome. Very clean ...
09:49 AM on 08/28/14
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Jason Tate
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Nice Job Jason. Looks awesome. Very clean ...
Thanks.
09:49 AM on 08/28/14
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Jason Tate
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Is the user rating in the reviews gone for good? Not that it mattered much, just wondering. Anyway this design looks a lot better!
Yeah, I killed that. Didn't see any reason for it -- was getting abused anyway.
05:38 AM on 08/29/14
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Craig Manning
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Yeah, I killed that. Didn't see any reason for it -- was getting abused anyway.
Gonna be honest: I won't miss the user reviews. I agree that they were being abused and I think they made the page look messier than it needed to be. I think this new style is infinitely better. I also like not having to put the rating at the bottom of the page anymore!
10:15 AM on 08/29/14
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Jason Tate
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Gonna be honest: I won't miss the user reviews. I agree that they were being abused and I think they made the page look messier than it needed to be. I think this new style is infinitely better. I also like not having to put the rating at the bottom of the page anymore!
Agreed on all fronts. Really like how it's all laid out here -- looks really sharp.

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