Lowlife consists of Jordan Cardy (RATBOY) and his backing band, Liam Haygarth and Harry Todd. The trio gelled so well together that they decided to form their own band and take a DIY approach to write and produce their debut LP, Payday.
Payday opens with "Sometimes", which borrows a Black Sabbath sample and pays homage to N.E.R.D productions. The West Coast hip-hop leanings of this song feel authentic, and these Essex boys have truly found the vessel for their ideas and creativity to bloom. "Sometimes" is also adroitly adolescent, offering late nineties and early noughties teenage glory with the things teenagers wish they knew and without the irrational anger.
There are several nods to stadium American rock music beginning with "American Dreamer". The Joan Jett and Weezer style amplified guitars fused with an adrenalin-rushing fast beat reminiscent of Jamie T's "Stick and Stones" sees the trio look upon the US as a land of opportunity. "Fucked Up" follows, which is about being what the title suggests. The bass lines throughout are infectious and impossible to ignore, with exciting feel-good guitar riffs and occasional funk guitar, which makes everyone feel a little less self-conscious. In a live setting, "Shotgun," like "American Dreamer" and "Fucked Up," will guarantee moshing and crowding surfing and get everybody singing "Na na na na na's" in unison.
The band describe the second track and lead single, "Elon", like Gorillaz reanimating The Specials' classic track "Ghost Town". One can also detect 21 Pilots' influences too, with nods to late nineties and early noughties beats. The production crowns "Elon" by turning a motley of sounds into a timeless tune. "Feel it Again" then changes Payday's course with a children's choir reminiscent, albeit more highly pitched, of the one featured on Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall". "Afterglow" introduces itself with a sound influenced by the Hoosiers "Goodbye Mr A" before offering soothing, composed and chilled hip-hop beats. The penultimate "Merry Go", which samples an old ballroom waltz tune with clarinets, pleasantly drifts along into a lo-fi hip-hop soundscape.
Payday's overall theme is one of returning to a state of chilled, stress-free adolescence without the ignorance and uncertainty that comes part and parcel with teenage years. "Street Justice" defies this trend with confrontational lyrics and an angry, bellicose Rage Against the Machine attitude. "Street Justice" galvanises without having to make copious political references. "Sirens", albeit without the anger, explores a more macabre world which is impossible to shield an adolescent from. The deft unionising of trumpet and siren sounds on a song that respectfully pays tribute to the ska and 2-tone genres simultaneously and equally relaxes and unnerves the listener.
Lowlife have taken sounds and styles of production which, when a listener looks back on them, sees their appreciation whilst also seeing how in some respects have become dated. Lowlife have not only reminded audiences of the coolness of popular adolescent late nineties and early noughties sounds; they have paved the way to making them timeless classics. The cherry on the cake is the humbleness of the band's approach. Payday is devoid of arrogance. With Cardy having had his music sampled by Kendrick Lamar and contributing to the Cyber Punk 2077 video game soundtrack, it would be easy for this trio to fall into that trap.