It’s been a long hard road for Lowgold. Criminally ignored after their first couple of albums, and with nothing but bad luck when it came to record labels, it seemed as everything was against the band. After Nude Records had gone tits up, and Sanctuary hardly spent any time promoting their second album Welcome To Winners, the band released a few rarities on their own label and basically called it a day.
Sometimes a little bit of sadness is needed to put things into perspective. After one of the band’s managers died, Lowgold reformed for the funeral and decided to begin working together again.
With any luck, Promise Lands will finally get Lowgold the success they so deserve. It’s not as if they’re not capable of writing stunning songs, after all. Their debut album contained the heartbreaking Beauty Dies Young and Welcome To Winners proved that this was a band with the capability to write hugely affecting material.
Much of Promise Lands was written by vocalist Darren Ford in the absence of his band. With no hope, prospects and on a terrible run of luck, things are understandably a little bleak. This is a band who released an album entitled Keep Music Miserable. Promise Lands is most definitely a miserable record, but not to the point of self pity.
Lowgold have always sounded melancholy, but Promise Lands sees them stepping out in a more mature direction with heartfelt, heartbreaking stuff. Ford’s voice has taken on a richer quality. At times he sounds a little like Mark Lanegan, with a world weary tobacco stained drawl.
The forthcoming single Burning Embers is the closest things get to uptempo, but even then it is shot through with a feeling of untold sadness. Dead Sea sees the band utilising a little bit of discord (and it’s here that they are closest to the likes of Screaming Trees) and injecting some anger and vim into proceedings.
Elsewhere this is an album of brooding introspection that really needs time to reveal itself. The aching beauty of Nothing Stays The Same or the slow build towards the emotion soaked climax of Hope And Reason are not something that can be appreciated with any kind of immediacy. Lowgold need time to soak in, but once they do theirs is a world full of promise.
It is a great injustice that the likes of Coldplay have thrived whilst Lowgold have struggled to make an impression. Promise Lands may be a little too maudlin to redress the balance, but make no mistake; this is an album and a band that deserves to be heard. Life may be tough, but the fact that Lowgold are still making wonderful music is in itself a light at the end of the tunnel.