Lost under Heaven (a.k.a. LUH) is the project of former WU LYF frontman Ellery James Roberts and Dutch visual artist Ebony Hoorn. Love Hates What You Become (released through MUTE) is the follow-up album to the critically acclaimed and promising debut, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing.
One notable difference with this latest record is that Hoorn has a more prominent role vocally than before and this serves as a welcome respite to Roberts’ gravelly roar which is still a little overwrought and hard to listen to at times. This is a shame because the duo are obviously very committed both creatively and artistically but the efforts of their work get lost beneath Roberts vocal which on occasion can sound like a caricature of a rock singer and this can be really distracting when trying to take in the musical layers and textures to their songs.
The first half of the album is stronger with intriguing and great songs, notably first single release Bunny’s Blues where Hoorn adopts the character of Bunny, also directing the video which revealed her alter ego as Hoorn explains: “Creating this character of Bunny began with a performance piece I did back in Amsterdam – She became a playful tool to confront how male-dominated society attempts to control both women and nature without having any real understanding or respect for their being an innate power”.
Hoorn is alluring and provocative in her vocal as she fully embraces the character before the chorus offers blustering blasts of hard drum beats and electronica in its chorus as she declares: “Cos you don’t understand me – You don’t understand .“ The Breath of Light follows – an emotive and heartfelt song led by Roberts’ ardent, intense voice: “Cause I am trying, I am trying but I am dying I feel life break beneath the waves But I won’t let them hold me No, won’t let them hold me down, no more I breathe the breath of light” Hoorn joins in towards the end, her vocal intertwining with Roberts, their voices soaring in unison to the heavens.
Most High is a nod to The Cure’s Disintegration in sound with expansive choral chimes of synth, shimmers of cymbal and fuzzy electric guitars is a highlight as is title track Love Hates What You Become where the duo sing to each other in a touching, chanting vocal embrace, while mournful synths and gentle strings add a poignant beauty and atmosphere. From here the album is overshadowed by Roberts’ overworked vocal although the tracks aren’t bad Serenity Says beats with a psychedelic pulse and ‘60s percussion whilst Savage Messiah has an evocative headiness driven by a sleazy piano and Roberts sounding raw and visceral.
Post Millennial Tension starts with sparse piano and evolves into full-blown orchestration and For The Wild is a climatic closer – a cacophony of cinematic sound and tension. Love Hates What You Become is an admirable follow-up album from an innovative duo who are obviously hungry to create and perform their art – it’s just perhaps a little too earnest and intense and tries too hard when it doesn’t need to.