Dutch trio The Lumes offer up a bitter dose of gritty, primitive post-punk on Envy, their latest release. Everywhere, it seems the band strips back their meaning to core human, emotional functions. And more often than not, core dysfunction.
The six-track EP opens with “Anguish” that is loud, guitar led, riddled with urgency. Every lyric, every single screeching line on the solo so strident, so teeming with obvious purpose, it draws the listener in under a surly spell. Purpose is the defining characteristic of The Lumes brand of punk. Almost hypnotic in its stormy instrumentation, “Slow” captures a disembodied, droned vocal; while “Discharge” isn’t necessarily an instrumental track, the feedback-drenched guitars seize the mantle of song voice. Feeling a little punchy? Then the air raid assault on the post-chorus section of “Feign” will only frustrate and find flourish in your already dour mood.
After repeat listens to Envy though, I found the songwriting less than inspiring. Had I written this review, say, after the first time through, I would have given it a higher rating. Sure, the Lumes capture energy – strident, often-explosive energy – but sometimes the launch and land on a track do not match in intensity. Better said, where the songs end up is not as exciting as where they began. After the “Feign” chorus (which is a questionable “a smile is a frown turned upside down”) and the streaking blasts that are riveting at higher volumes, the song inexplicably implodes on itself; I wanted it to continue toward a climax. Perhaps the best song of the bunch, “Who Makes Me Try” is raw to a point, bordering on desperation, but I felt feeling that it was flailing around a bit, never really managing to fulfill its initial, blistering promise.
All of this, well, urgency leaves Envy with a single access point. I don’t think these three lads would really disagree with that. None of these half-dozen tracks lets up for a beat, and that’s fine, but in spite of its driving purpose, it is, by definition, a single trick.