Bowery Electric: Lushlife

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By Sarah Zupko

PopMatters Editor & Publisher

Geez, all I can say is if you’re depressed or in a bad mood, don’t pop Bowery Electric’s Lushlife into your boombox. A more appropriate title would have been “Darklife,” as the tone herein is decidedly downcast and often forlorn. Sparse, almost lonely, arrangements underpin breathy, ethereal vocals and quiet scratching beats, especially on the title track. Thing is, this works well in certain settings…late at night…chilling out on a really cloudy day. Although, I wouldn’t suggest riding down the 405 in L.A. on a sunny day with the top down with this blaring from your speakers.

Still, it’s interesting to say the least that Bowery Electric’s virtually darkwave, nearly ambient, sounds use slowed-down hip-hop rhythms are their basis. In fact it’s what saves the music. Lushlife on the surface, without paying close attention, can sound spacey and ambient, but the hip-hop textures subvert the ambient genre in a most satisfying manner, adding much-needed spice to a style that can be unflinchingly bland in lesser hands.

In order to construct these sounds, the group decamped to a new entirely computer-based studio in Brooklyn. The effects of the studio show too, in the cocoon-like feel of the songs and the seeming obliviousness to the teeming chaos and noise of the hectic New York world just outside their doors. Lushlife is not so much gritty, multi-cultural Brooklyn, as it is midday in Reykjavik or Helsinki during those times of the year when the sun dares not show its face for months.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/boweryelectric-lushlife/