English duo Lost Under Heaven‘s second album Love Hates What You Become takes form as a dynamic and divergent set of lyrical and stylistic turns between Ebony Hoorn and Ellery James Roberts. The duo’s art-rock ethos and industrial-tinged instrumentation playfully back his screeching vocals as much as her range between yearning and mourning. Performances and delivery by both vocalists coalesce with powerful instrumentation to create an atmospheric and emotional background in Love Hates What You Become. The album starts with blistering punch but retreats slowly across its tracks to achieve range and delivery the duo’s artistic sentiments on modernity and humanity.
Love Hates What You Become offers social awareness and artistic sentiments translated into sonic landscapes and apocalyptic outcomes about humanity and the environment by Hoorn and Ellery. Influences from Nine Inch Nails and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are prominent in the album as is the work of producer John Congleton and the recording environment in Los Angeles where the duo recorded in the summer of 2017. The city and the desert around it inspired the album’s title, with the band’s experiences in L.A. and in reflection of the city offering a sense of “falsehood” and indifference. Modern society struggles onward while time and environment take back what is owed.
Even with these influences, the album retains an identity of the duo’s home in Manchester and education in Brussels. There’s an appealing European artistic sentiment confronting the landscape of the American southwest offered by much of the album, particularly its strong middle in “Black Sun Rising”, the title track, and “Serenity Says”. Here the duo’s love is prominent and operates as a shield to unending hurt and indifference in the modern world, be it depicted in the heavily populated urban sphere or the desolate and dry desert of the terrain around Los Angeles.
Opener “Come” reflects the pain and suffering caused in confronting the struggle and decline in optimism the duo artistically paints into this album. The opener is a stark and screeching vocal performance, and the most overtly industrial track on the album. It sets the stage for the moody emotions of the album. The following track, “Bunny’s Blues”, carries similar instrumentation, as well as an impressive debut vocal performance by Hoorn. She shifts between soothing lyrics and uncertain rushed feeling with ease. Love and connection are prominent themes in “The Breath of Light”, featuring a set of lyrics about breaking free from those that seek to restrict or reduce the individual in society. It’s a heartfelt rejection of limitations and indifference in a solitary world that sees Hoorn join Ellery in later choruses in the song.
Promotional materials highlighted the duo’s starting point for the album with the track “Black Sun Rising”, and it is easily the best song on Love Hates What You Become. Quietly emerging both musically and vocally, an electric guitar introduces Hoorn, who sings of visions and artistically documents social awareness adapted from recent events and her education in Amsterdam. The song is the result of both an art installation as well as Ellery’s lyrical reflections on events such as Charlottesville, which occurred while the band was recording the album. The duo channeled “an inescapable ominous shadow” into the track to reflect political and social reactionary developments across the globe. The song is pessimistic, the “black sun rising” at once a symbol of Nazism alongside dread and destruction. The title track follows and offers much sentimentality about the competition between reality and fantasy. Despite the title, it contains a sweet acoustic guitar performance alongside the duo’s duet, and the instrumentation leads the vocals toward light and comfort.
Much like the album opener and “Black Sun Rising”, “Savage Messiah” highlights pain and suffering with modernity. However, where “Come” is a strong raw track, “Savage Messiah” is a musically beautiful track, with a strong vocal delivery and exquisite guitar, piano, and drum performances, but it evokes only pain and escape feels impossible. Violence and death erupt as the only resolution for the pain, with a sorrowful yearning in Ellery’s vocals laid over solitary percussion in the track’s final minute. It’s a symbolic pause preceding the two final tracks on the album. Destruction is imminent on “Post-Millennial Tension” but survival is possible if the world is pushed against and rejected. The lyrics note a desert environment and the hollowness of words (social media?), but the continued prominence of love songs. Optimism bulwark against increasing indifference.
The final track on Love Hates What You Become sees the sentiments and emotion of the entire album folded into a theatrical performance for the end. “For the Wild” is unique on the album, with bright and deep instrumentation complimenting Ellery’s vocal delivery. Hoorn offers a complimentary duet within the track, and together the two offer a passionate and emotional artistry that erases the dreariness of the preceding nine tracks.
Altogether, Love Hates What You Become by Lost Under Heaven is artistic and dynamic, with enough exploration and experimentation to see the album and its tracks offered in a live active atmosphere as much as in solitude and wearing headphones. The duo’s artistic background offers blistering sentiments on the effects of modernity upon humanity and individuality, while seamlessly articulating and painting sonic landscapes that capture a visual embodiment. Ellery’s lyrics and vocals are joined by Hoorn, whose shifts in vocal quality and tone carry an intensity and connectivity that foster the sentiments of Love Hates What You Become.