On “IV,” Letting Up Despite Great Faults Return With A Flourish
On March 4th, Austin, Texas-based indie rock outfit Letting Up Despite Great Faults released their first album in eight years, IV! Drenched in jangly guitars, atmospheric synthesizers, and dream pop/shoegaze production, IV provides the world with more of what made the band stand out in the late 2000s/early 2010s. Some of it sounds like it could very easily soundtrack an 80s movie, and that soundtracking capacity is what makes this album a truly grand flourish. Let’s take it track by track, shall we?
“Kisses” is an excellent instrumental opener. It sets the stage for the album without ever overstaying its welcome, particularly as it gives way into “Corners Pressed.” “Corners Pressed” has an amazing lead guitar line, fantastic shoegaze vocal production, and straightforward drums. All of these elements combine into a phenomenal, complete song. While the vocals are mixed into the instrumental to serve as another instrument, they never feel completely buried. They sit ever-so-slightly above the rest. There are moments where the lyrics get a bit jumbled, but in this style, I don’t feel like that fully matters. It’s more about the energy and the vibe of the sound.
Following “Corners Pressed” is “Softly, Bravely.” “Softly, Bravely” is one of the first songs on this album that fully takes influence from The Cure. I have in my notes that most of this album can be related to “Just Like Heaven” and “In Between Days,” and that begs the question: are the members of Letting Up Despite Great Faults just incredible fans of The Cure, or are they big fans of the movie Sing Street? The 80s dream pop production oozes out of every song on this album, and it all comes back to a single influence.
That’s not to say there aren’t moments on this album that feely wholly unique. “Gorgeous” is a gorgeous track with relatively heavier guitars and a bit more forward vocal production, which is a pretty cool dichotomy to have near the middle of the album. Which, I must say: the pacing on this album is fantastic. There are moments to breathe, and there are moments to just be hit by the wall of sound. As I’ve mentioned before, the four songs an artist has to nail – opener, end of side A, start of side B, and closer – are pretty much all nailed here. “New Ground” is a phenomenal end to a phenomenal first side of an album, and though it is only my second favorite on the record, it is very close to that top spot.
Note that I said “pretty much all nailed” on the four songs bit. Unfortunately, a major downside to this record is the start of side B. “Gemini” is a good song, but that’s just it: it’s just good. There are so many great moments and songs on this record that a good song like “Gemini” just seems like a misfire. It’s the weakest in terms of lead guitar lines, and it lasts just a bit too long. However, the next track is my favorite on the album, so “Gemini” gets a little bit of a pass.
“She Spins” is dream pop perfection. Read my review of it here to see exactly what I mean, but there are no wasted moments on “She Spins.” It is flawless. Check it out now.
Following up “She Spins” with “Tumble” is excellent because it changes the energy of the album – the vibe, if you will – and the opening lyric immediately calls the previous song into question. Starting a song that follows a partial love song with the line “Do you love her” immediately calls that last sentiment into question and creates a unique tension at the end of the album, keeping the listener hooked and waiting to see what happens. It’s also important to note that this line is one of the most clearly understandable lines of the whole album, which means it was important to bring out for a reason.
“Curl” is a nice penultimate track because it serves as a palette cleanser following that tension that was just created, and “Self-Portrait” sticks the landing as a closer, even with a long intro. It feels like a closing track should, particularly on an album like this. It’s energetic, it’s sonically hopeful, and it brings together all of the elements that made the earlier songs work. Phenomenal end to a phenomenal album.
Check out IV below! It’s only about 30 minutes long, and those 30 minutes are well spent. Letting Up Despite Great Faults have timed their return perfectly, and it’s exciting to see. Let us know what you think below as well!