Formed in a search for solace during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, punk colleagues Anthony Green (Circa Survive), Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), Travis Steever (Coheed and Cambria), and Tucker Rule and Tim Payne (Thursday) pulled themselves out of their isolation funks to make some hard rock lemonade. The sound of L.S. Dunes combines the styles each member is known for bringing to their respective bands while simultaneously creating something different and of its own.
Their debut album, Past Lives (Fantasy Recordings) is the light at the end of the tunnel they needed to keep their inner rockers alive during a time when many were losing hope in the future of live music.
Past Lives is filled with melancholic yet catchy guitars, crispy bass tones, and pummeling drum dynamics that work together effortlessly to accentuate the wide-ranging vocals from the wearied cleans to the agitated screams. With how well each instrument highlights each other, it’s hard to believe the album was written with each member separated by lockdown, relying on email and file-sharing services – and by a group of musicians who (apart from Rule and Payne) had no prior experience together.
‘Blender’ stands out with its classic metal vibes, featuring sleek melodic guitar harmonies to rouse determination in an otherwise downhearted song. The hectic ‘Permanent Rebellion’ is about taking back your life when something as restraining as a worldwide pandemic puts it on indefinite hold. Green screams “I don’t want to be alone like this, why don’t you make it what you want it to be? I don’t want to be a victim here,” while another layer of him sings “I don’t want to stay shut, sleeping through the operation.” This frenzy of emotion is backed by a wailing guitar that makes it all the more haywire, depicting the erratic thought patterns many have endured over the last couple years.
L.S. Dunes have a certain aptitude for balancing each member’s role perfectly – no instrument is ever upstaged by the others. Not only does each one get their chance to shine, but they’re all constantly shining together with equal brilliance. This is normally hard to pull off without the music getting scrambled or indecipherable, but with their arrangement skills they pack everything together coherently. As if the electrifying riff counterpoint in tracks like ‘Bomb Squad’ and ‘Grifter’ weren’t enough, there are countless fine-tuned details that give you new aspects to discover with each listen.
While each musician in L.S. Dunes has already proven their greatness, this new project provided them with a fresh canvas. That flexibility allowed their unique strengths to emerge from the shadows cast by quarantine, letting their creativity excel in just the way they needed. With Past Lives, fans can learn something new about the capabilities of artists they have loved for decades.
8 / 10