Lifeguard : Crowd Can Talk/Dressed In Trenches

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Lifeguard Crowd can talk dressed in trenches review

If the name Lifeguard isn’t familiar, their story might be. Formed by a group of teenagers in Chicago, the band got their start in the local youth scene, quickly building up steam, playing shows at venues like Schubas and putting out a series of cassettes and 7-inch singles before eventually joining the roster of legendary independent imprint Matador. It’s a similar arc taken by that of their peers in Horsegirl; in fact, drummer Isaac Loewenstein and that band’s vocalist/guitarist Penelope Loewenstein are brother and sister. Though the biographical details are similar, their approach is uniquely their own, drawing on early ’90s post-hardcore and noise rock in the pursuit of a form of hard-charging, rhythmically taut indie rock that feels more novel now than it before Lifeguard’s members were born.

They’re also incredibly good at it, the product of a group that hasn’t stopped moving since they formed in 2019, their body of all-analog recordings growing steadily ever since. With the jump to Matador comes a new EP, Dressed In Trenches, paired with a reissue of the Born Yesterday-released Crowd Can Talk. Five new songs and four slightly less new songs, the juxtaposition of which shows a considerable progression in only a year’s time. Not that the material they started with wasn’t sufficiently blistering and raw—songs like the spiraling shrieks of “New Age (I’ve Got A)” and the arpeggiated three-dude rhumba in “Fifty Seven.”

The transition into Dressed in Trenches is a fitting flip of the platter, their songs a little more refined, the balance of tension in each song just a little more nimble and acrobatic. The urgency remains—cue up “Alarm” to hear the band frantically bashing away with an even more focused aggression at their disposal—but more often than not they explore a more abstract kind of post-punk agitation, with the shrieking harmonics of “Shutter Shutter” and the minimalist repetitions of “17-18 Lovesong” finding them inching toward the heaviness without density of their Chicago progenitors and now peers in FACS. There’s not a moment on either EP that feels any less than thrilling, but it’s remarkable seeing that evolution nearly in real time, a young band sharpening raw talent with an ever-broadening sense of dynamics and imagination.

Label: Matador

Year: 2023

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