June 15, 2015 Love Amongst Ruin – Lose Your Way (Album Review)
What does a musician do when they have been a part of a band for eleven years and find themselves no longer in that band? If one is Steve Hewitt, former drummer of Placebo, they simply dust themselves off and get on with it. A very British attitude from a very British mate. Not only did he brush off the situation, he played with many other bands, produced others’ music, and started his own project in 2009, Love Amongst Ruin.
This creative endeavor produced a great debut self-titled album in 2010 full of dark disappointment, pain, and regrets. Being positively received, who knew a few years down the line, the sophomore album, Lose Your Way, set for release June 30th via Ancient B Records, would be better. According to Hewitt, the album contains better ideas, production, subject matter, and is heavier sounding, yet still gentle in places. Many would agree wholeheartedly. After playing for a year with Six by Seven; from Nottingham, playing for and producing Spiral 69; from Italy, and producing for LYS; a French band, Hewitt was becoming the United Nations of music. All these influences, styles, and experiences, combined with the obvious ones of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Metallica, and New Order, has improved his music with more diversity in nature and an eclectic style all his own. He has stated that he took more risk at his singing and songwriting, and the world is glad he did. His confidence soars and this delicious mix of all the experiences and creativity of Hewitt is evident in this album.
The first song, “Lose Your Way,” was also the first song completed when making the album, which consisted of a short two and a half months in England with Julian Cope’s Donald Ross Skinner and producer Dan Austin. It is a journey through the eyes of Hewitt who went from all he knew and prepared for, to a sudden break in the road. Everyone has been there. Just when they think they have it all together, things change. The ethereal, dreamlike feel of the music, to the steady beat, brings everyone to that break in the road. The track “Modern War Song” surprises with a strong, almost Native drum beat mixed with ethereal qualities, reverb, and some excellent harmonies done with voice as well as instruments alike. The track displays a fantastic mix of genres and moods.
Then, “Watch Myself” is a similar mix of moodiness, almost like a musical prayer, with lyrics that convey an image of watching one’s self from a different view. The great choice of chords and moods blend to take the listener to the place where the writer is. “Swan Killer” starts with a familiar Metallica feel, Heavy Metal vibe, fast-paced along with a moody quality, mixed with the band’s ability to blend in a way not noticeable at first, but works together. The lyrics, “Baby I feel for you, the way you feel for me………what are we gonna do, when all the love is gone?” is very reminiscent of a mix of Depeche Mode and The Cure. A great reason why it was picked as “Track of the Day” by Q Magazine back in April of this year is that it is a jambalaya of musical flavor…very tasty!
Moving right along, “Paper Tigers” starts with the ethereal feel as it blends into a more Alternative Rock sound with strong drums and excellent blended vocals. This is also an introspective point of view about facing life, and the music fits the lyrics perfectly. The cut “So Close” has a great keyboard start that blends smoothly with the vocals as if it were whipped cream; soft, smooth, and cool. Directly following is “Menace Ballad,” which is another pleasant, dynamic blend of styles and moods with many flat notes tying into the melancholy of the lyrics, sort of Beethovian in chord mixes with a modern use of electronica. It is difficult to point to where the notes would go next, and surprising results ensue. It is quite a fabulous mix that proved the abilities of Hewitt to take those chances and go for it. The final song, “Oh God,” is similar to “Watch Myself” in mood and feel. Again, it presents itself like a silent prayer in the darkness to whomever is listening. The beautiful riff of the guitar starts and continues equally to the lyrics, portraying a constant, continuous struggle with the pain and understanding of human behavior. The age old question of why humans feel a need to destroy one another by emotional destitution is asked here. The deep lyrics drip with pain as the musical composition do the same. The words, “You took your all away, every ounce…….you came to damage me, threw away the keys to my soul,” are proof enough of the empty voided space that the listener is drawn to, but the real sorrow is in the music that highlights the words. In enough words, it serves as salt in the sauce to bring out the flavor.
Lose Your Way will certainly be rewarded highly for all the hard work put in by the band. It displays the ability to blend words, notes, moods, and styles like a top-notch chef. The influences Hewitt experienced in his time away have given birth to a really creative piece of work, making it a pleasure to listen to. A smorgasbord or cornucopia of sound is always pleasurable, but hardly obtainable. With Love Amongst Ruin, Hewitt has done both. CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.