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Diminuendo + Singles (Remastered)

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Album Review

Lowlife followed up the strong if slightly monolithic Permanent Sleep with a more varied release, Diminuendo. Continuing to explore a darkly dramatic but never overwrought vein of post-punk atmospherics, the quartet, unchanged in lineup from its earliest releases, built beautifully on the past to further justify their increasing reputation in the U.K. "A Sullen Sky," the striking opening song, showed that even with a subtle change in the arrangements — a touch more clarity on Craig Lauritson's echoed vocals, the hint of swooping drone keyboards in the background, a little more space overall — the end results had that much more impact. With that as a calling card the quartet tackled the rest of the nine songs with gusto, with experiments including acoustic guitar ("Big Uncle Ugliness") and an almost Smiths-like peppier jangle (at least initially!) on "Wonders Will Never Cease." The essential blend of the band remains strong, though, and on songs like "Off Pale Yellow," with its beautiful cascading verses, and the concluding demi-ballad "Given to Dreaming" the evidence is perfectly clear. Each of the individual members further stretches their own talents along the way — Grant McDowell's drumming shows more variety throughout, for instance, while Lauritson adds quick, higher pitched flourishes here and there that lighten the stormclouds in a striking fashion. The secret winner of the album might be "Licking One's Wounds," with each of the bandmembers trying for a little something different yet still sounding exactly like themselves as a whole. [LTM's reissue adds two tracks from the Vain Delights EP and the entirety of the four-song Swirl, It Swings, both of which contain some of the group's finest individual songs, including the anthemic "Hollow Gut," the full 12" mix of "Eternity Road," and "Swing." The "Steel Mix" of "Permanent Sleep," meanwhile, manages to be even more echo-laden than the original, at once glowering and attractive.]


Formed: 1985 in Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s

Coming off like a dark hybrid of the Cocteau Twins and Joy Division/New Order, the Scottish band Lowlife was formed in 1985 by ex-Cocteau Twins (Garlands era) bassist Will Heggie and vocalist Craig Lorentson. Signed to the Nightshift label, the band debuted in 1985 with the six-song Rain EP. Their first full LP, Permanent Sleep, was released the following year. The Vain Delights 12" preceded the Diminuendo album in 1987, and another 12" release (Eternity Road) was out by the end of that year. 1988...
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Diminuendo + Singles (Remastered), Lowlife
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