Alt rockers Down I Go have an interesting and surprisingly long-lasting career that has seen them break up and now reform after being offered an opportunity to record a new album in Iceland. The band have also managed to achieve this with all 3 members now residing in Toronto, Stockholm and Chicago respectively. They’re third album You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is the culmination of their time in Iceland and it sounds like a mad combination of early Biffy Clyro wrestling with Between the Buried and Me.
Before we start our analysis of this record, I’m going to let you in on a little secret; I hold music against two main points of criticism. The first is the music has to be interesting and the second is the music has to be memorable. If you nail them both then you’re onto a winner but if you only achieve one then I personally think the music falls a little flat as a result. Down I Go’s music can definitely be described as interesting but an awful lot of You’re Lucky God simply goes through the motions without any melodies that really stick with you.
Down I Go manage to meld a wonderfully progressive, almost mathcore sound with some beautiful and uplifting vocal melodies that would happily lend themselves to alternative or post rock. Not only that but Ben Standage and Pete Fraser put their trombone and saxophone experience from previous band Jesse James to good use by flourishing the music with wonderful little bursts of brass. Their sound is bizarre and unique and the band have to be commended for making something sound so different.
What’s really strange about this record is how it manages to be incredibly brash and noisy but lack a lot of that power that makes heavy music so exciting to listen to. There’s a very stripped-back sound to You’re Lucky God and that means it often feels a bit lacking. The bass doesn’t beef the band’s sound up in the way it really should and despite the razor-sharp guitar work that could have been taken from a tech metal release, the guitar tone is just a bit tinny for something so fundamentally angry.
The real disappointment is that there are no real outstanding riffs or melodies that will lodge themselves in your psyche. You’re Lucky God plays out like one extended piece of music with many movements but the angular guitar work doesn’t generate riffs and the mainly screamed vocals also lack melody. When the vocals do move into sung territory they often have a drawn-out, lazy drawl to them that also fails to generate any memorable moments.
The most memorable moment from the record comes from its introduction, Mother in the Pen which sounds like nothing else on the record with its minimalist focus on melody that feels more like a Mogwai track. It also returns for a reprise that makes the whole album into a charming cyclical experience.
You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is an ambitious album with a wonderfully unique sound that doesn’t really allow Down I Go to work with any melodies or riffs that could really set the whole experience off. This whole record made me feel somewhat hollow as it often showcases a band who have mastered their craft but their craft is unfortunately lacking in melody.
Down I Go’s You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is out now on 12″ white vinyl through Holy Roar Records.