Lewis Del Mar | s/t (Columbia)

The 10-song collection is greater than the sum of its parts, with each song unique, yet still cohesive sounding.


Hot off an eventful year with excellent press coverage, and a well-received tour and EP, newcomers Lewis Del Mar plan on closing 2016 with a bang, releasing their self-titled debut album. The collection of songs opens with “Such Small Scenes,” whose distorted opening and acoustic guitar doodle sets the tone for the album quite well. What Lewis Del Mar has done well is its unique juxtaposition of indie rock and industrial music. They toe the line of almost sounding like Jason Mraz, but then counter any of those notions with distorted acoustic riffs, affected vocals, atypical drum patterns, and dirty synths. In some ways, “indie-pop Nine Inch Nails” might be an apt way to describe the sound this band has tapped into.

Lead single “Loud(y),” released last year, still shines brightly on this debut. While it may seem it’d be difficult for Lewis Del Mar to top such a catchy and unique song, the first listen through this debut full-length immediately puts those fears to rest. Singles “14 Faces” and “Painting (Masterpiece),” while well done in their own rights, are stronger on the album and work better together as a whole. This is what makes Lewis Del Mar’s self-titled LP work so well. Each song can confidently stand on its own, but the 10-song collection is greater than the sum of its parts, with each song unique, yet still cohesive sounding.

One of the highlights on this debut is “Tap Water Drinking.” The song is deceptive, starting out with an organ-sounding synth and simple percussions, as the first half has the vibe of R&B-inspired indie rock. The second half of the song, however, flows and unexpectedly builds up into a distorted, industrial-inspired jam, and showcases the dynamic range Lewis Del Mar has.

A strong aspect of this debut is that in all its sonic experimentation, the band never sounds as if it’s compromising or trying too hard. Together, the duo sounds confident, without sounding overly self-assured. There’s not a lull or weak spot on this strong debut. Even in songs wherein Lewis Del Mar decides to bring the driving energy down (“Malt Liquor” and “Islands”), it’s never boring, with the bandmates able to build energy back up naturally.

The album closes with the gorgeous and bittersweet “Live that Long.” While it may appear as if an extra song or two could’ve been added along the way, the truth of the matter is the album’s sequencing of songs feels very complete. In keeping this collection of songs short, and not including all of the work off the band’s teaser EP, only the best material has made it onto the album. In fact, what Lewis Del Mar has achieved in this debut is making an album that keeps the listener interested and wanting more. It’ll be interesting to see how this band continues on its development and musical evolution, but for now, sitting back and enjoying this stellar debut is enough. A | Michael Cheng

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