Four years after their critically acclaimed album Escape From Evil, Lower Dens are back. The indie-pop band just announced their latest full-length, The Competition, set for release on Ribbon Music on Sept. 6.
The Baltimore-based dream-pop act also released the new album’s lead track, the visceral and timely “Young Republicans,” along with a cannibalism-filled retro music video delving into our society’s elite and their insatiable appetite to consume lower classes.
A poppy ‘80s-esque dance track pumped up with plenty of synth, “Young Republicans” is a smooth, anthemic ode to the misfits who become the prey of young Republican elites. As the credits roll, the elites don all red and dig into the guts of a “misfit” left sliced open on the dining table.
Lower Dens took to Twitter to explain the significance of the song, which captures the “horror and misery in our society” that “has its roots in the actions of wealthy, endlessly privileged people who can not sate themselves.”
These elites, they add, have co-opted the language of victims, believing “themselves violated by others’ desire to be let alone and live in peace.”
For Lower Dens, no metaphor better explains how society is ravaged by wealthy conservatives than cannibalism.
“Everything that makes us human is, for them, their resource to consume,” another tweet reads.
This feeling is highlighted by Jana Hunter’s personal connection to the song as a transgender, gender-nonconforming songwriter from a poor conservative family.
“I can trace the outline of my anger along the edge of weaponized desperation that is manufactured en masse by wealthy conservatives,” Hunter said on Twitter.
The concept behind the new album, The Competition, is simple, yet politically urgent: Competition drives modern capitalism and it ravages society, catalyzing our insecurities and anxieties, and corroding connection, communities and identities.
“The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset,” Hunter explains in a statement. “I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”
The vulnerable new album promises to meld the personal and the political through the overarching theme of connection to one another. The lyrics are expected to be both funny and visceral, sometimes using grotesque imagery.
In a preview of lyrics from “Buster Keaton,” Hunter sings, “I stood there stupefied by your pretty face / And spitting blood onto your shirt and your pretty face / I said I might love you.”
Another song, “Empire Sundown,” will be centered on overthrowing the plutocrats and include lyrics like, “Look them in the eyes when they push you / Off the raft and make them watch you drown.”
Hunter, who lists their influences as serpentwithfeet, Travis Scott and Faten Kanaan, layered recorded sounds, performances, and midi and synth instruments while creating the album.
“The result is a pop album that unifies theme and feel, and swallows you up,” a press release explains. “The songs are dense with guitars, drums, bass and synth, but also accordion, French horn, trumpet, bassoon and flute.”
But the album still promises to be a cohesive whole, pressing us to have compassion for ourselves when trying to reimagine what society should be.
“The album chronicles messy, vulnerable humanity at a time of upheaval and chaos through immersive, four-minute songs meant to give pleasure as much as provoke self-examination,” according to the release.
Watch the “Young Republicans” video and listen to Lower Dens’ 2010 Daytrotter Session below, and see the details of their forthcoming album further down.
The Competition Album Art:
The Competition Tracklist:
02. Hand of God
03. Two Faced Love
04. Young Republicans
05. Real Thing
06. Buster Keaton
07. I Drive
08. Simple Life
09. Empire Sundown
10. Lucky People
11. In Your House