For Fans Of
Atmospheric, progressive, electronic, space…call it whatever type of rock you want, it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Australian favorites Dead Letter Circus. Previous offerings ‘This is the Warning’ and ‘The Catalyst Fire’ served as benchmarks for heavier bands within the Australian scene. On DLC‘s latest offering, ‘Aesthesis’, the weight of expectation is apparent at times, but should not be confused with the naturally more mature and measured approach to song writing, which has developed within the group, as well as the influence of multiple line-up changes.
If there is one negative thing that ‘This is the Warning’ has done for the group, it is to kill off any prospect of finding an equal for an opening song. It comes comes as a surprise therefore that the first tones, which are heard by the listener, on album opener ‘In Plain Sight’ are those of an acoustic guitar, accompanied by lead vocalist Kim Benzie, whose trademark soaring vocals welcome us back to DLC’s world. ‘In Plain Sight’ slowly builds to the fanfare of the chorus before dropping away and rebuilding, a common motif throughout the record. Lead single ‘While You Wait’ is up next, a tune that is not only one of the catchiest ever composed by the band, but which is also sure to be a live favourite. ‘While You Wait’ is evidence of the enhanced song writing abilities of the band, with its anthemic chorus giving way to a beautiful, ethereal verse in which the instrumentation broadens out, allowing the lyrics to shine, “You believe what you want to// remove what you know in your heart is the truth from the lie.” A guitar solo and a final chorus, with an extra build on the end, cap off a true highlight of the band’s catalogue.
Slow, soft beginnings are the order of the day for ‘Aesthesis’. Personal favorite ‘Silence’ contains a haunting acoustic beginning, with the introduction of subtle piano lines and electronic percussive effects allowing the tension to steadily build, before arriving at a heavy climax. The addition of a choral effect chanting the word ‘Liar’ over and over again as the song fades away enables ‘Silence’ to stand out from the rest.
‘Aesthesis’ also showcases the natural talent of DLC to write truly memorable choruses. ‘Y A N A’ is a collection of all the trademark DLC quirks, with the poppy bass tones of Stewart Hill and sophisticated rhythms of Luke Williams driving the song to a glorious chorus in which guitarists Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer combine both steady chords and soaring leads to add an extra dimension to the song. It is on ‘Show Me’, however, that all these elements truly work. The straight ahead motion of the chorus gives the song just the right amount of push needed to bring the energy levels up another gear. Benzie, who provides a much more controlled vocal performance throughout the album, comes into his own in the bridge, with his infectious melodies sitting beautifully above the rest of the band.
The main problem with ‘Aesthesis’, like every other DLC record, is the ‘sameness’ which surrounds many of the songs, mainly due to similar dynamic movements and melodic passages. This is particularly apparent on ‘This Lie we Live’ and album closer ‘Born (Pt 2)’, with both tunes filled with similar ingredients to the rest of the record, but lacking either the same creative energy or drive. There does appear to be an undercurrent of caution at times on ‘Aesthesis’, evident through the band’s brief expeditions into new territory mentioned above, but never fully committing to the risk. However, the pure quality of a majority of the music on the record overshadows this critique, with cuts like ‘Change the Concept’ perfectly fusing heaviness with melodic beauty.
‘Aesthesis’ will definitely please a majority of the DLC faithful, as well as reach new audiences with the enhanced song writing and creative elements. It will be exciting to see how these atmospheric songs translate when the band tours the country this October.
Put simply, this is a solid third offering Dead Letter Circus, which adds a needed dose of variety to the expanding catalouge.
1. In Plain Sight
2. While You Wait
3. The Burning Number
5. Y A N A
6. The Lie We Live
7. Show Me
9. Change The Concept
10. Born (Part 2)