Review By Alex Slakva
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Down The Lees is best described as an experimental cocktail, both in style, and line up, as most of which have already full time commitments as primary ingredients in established bands in Vancouver. It’s pretty common for members of locally celebrated acts to converge together to create amazing side projects, only to never speak of it again immediately after they become one of your most favourite acts (Henri Faberge and The Adorables). Thankfully, this is a highly improbable scenario for the Down The Lees, as represented on their very first EP “Wear Me Out”, which came out last week.
Every single track on this EP, is actually a collaboration between a limited number, if not one, guest artist and the only consistent member (LL Schultz), who is able to take on multiple instrumental responsibilities. The overall sound of the EP averages out to very chill out, ambient merge between indie and electro.
There are 3 tracks: ‘Wear Me Out (with Jessie Robertson, on Bass, from Low Spin/Dating Myself, ‘Temper Mapping’ and ‘Brave’. There is a noticeable overlap, but that can likely be attributed to Swann Barrat (Synth, Producer), and Shawn Penner having worked on multiple tracks (Co-producer). The avenue being explored essentially merges the repetitive, minimalistic appeal of house music, and fitted with a symmetrical equivalent of droney, spaced out singing. This skeleton is then outfitted with some wild card aesthetic which coins most relevant different of the track. This formula is a double-edged sword. It’s does help highlight cool effects through contrast, such as the Christmas Carol loop in ‘Brave’; at the same time ‘Wear Me Out’ and ‘Temper Mapping’ sound very similar, if you take away the vocals in the title track. Perhaps that was the intent, because this would make for cool atmospheric aesthetics at bars or clubs.
Overall, the implicit idea behind this EP is intriguing, but needs to fleshed out a bit more, as the minimalistic approach to the percussions and singing leaves a lot of slack for the individual track’s niche to pick up every single time. On that note, ‘Brave’ is great and I hope that there will be more songs like that in the future.