Album Reviews

Lifeguard: Crowd Can Talk EP

The exciting Chicago three-piece return with their latest release.

Lifeguard are never far away from the turntable platter. They are the kind of band that placate. That ease the mind of uncertainty. A gateway to a phase or a taster before entering that rabbit hole.

Dubbed “the best teenage band since Squirrel Bait“, the Chicago three-piece (guitarist/vocalist, Kai Slater; bassist, Asher Case; drummer, Isaac Lowenstein) first came to our attention in 2020 with their debut album, Dive.

Whilst us pen-smiths may get carried away with outlandish statements from time to time, it’s hard to argue against the aforementioned point. The only band that may surpass them is fellow Chicago outfit, Horsegirl, which consists of Lowenstein’s sister, Penelope. (Side note: Lowenstein and Case were also involved in an early manifestation of the band.)

With 2020’s Dive and later with the 2021 singles that followed, Receiver and Taking Radar, Lifeguard presented assured, precocious slices of work. Unafraid to wear their ’90s reverence on their sleeve, the band showcased a virtuoso beyond their years, stretching out soundscapes in protracted and interesting ways.

On their latest release, the Crowd Can Talk EP,  Lifeguard tighten their belt a little. With four songs that a more concise, by dabbling in brevity, their songs strike the ear with a new immediacy.

Lifeguard - Crowd Can Talk

With Lowenstein’s percussive blasts, Case’s sharp bass lines and Slater’s burning chords, New Age (I’ve Got A) is like a fire lit at your front door. Lifeguard move the needle from their Unwound worship to late nineties post-hardcore. Think At the Drive-In enmeshed with the youthful angst of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.

I Know I Know is an instant ear worm. With adrenaline-filled bass lines, the Trail of Dead inflections remain, but here Lifeguard’s snarling mess collides with the world of post-punk.

Meanwhile, Fifty Seven sees Lifeguard slowing down the pace. Well, briefly. Entering a hairpin turn, the fiery angst returns, unpinned by a rhythm section that echoes Mission of Burma.  

It all ends with Typecast where Lifeguard produce the kind of raw intensity that could have made its way onto In/Casino/Out. Once again combined with the rumbling echoes of Mission of Burma, Lifeguard continue to explore and find out more about themselves as a unit, with new creative arcs emerging all the time.

It’s yet another indication that Lifeguard aim to keep moving forward in their quest to reach as many new listeners as possible. And with Crowd Can Talk, this 16 minute spitfire of sound and glory confirms that it’s only a matter of time before they do.

Crowd Can Talk is out now via Born Yesterday Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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