monoblogue music: “Insubordia” by The Lost Poets

They have always said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case a lot of clues about the debut EP from Stockholm’s The Lost Poets can be found: the release is a stark yet mysterious five-song effort which may not seem attractive at first glance – or first listen – but is intriguing enough to have staying power in the mind’s eye. In short, it’s worth the listen and I’ll tell you why.

First, though, you have to eliminate your preconceived notions of how a rock band which lists influences as “Queens of the Stone Age, David Bowie, The Raconteurs, Soundgarden and Nick Cave” should sound because The Lost Poets are a two-piece band. Vocalist David Rosengren also handles the guitar while bandmate Petter Ossian Stromberg handles both bass and drums.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that the leadoff track, Ode To K, has a simple yet powerful arrangement through most of its length. To me, it was a very straightforward song which began to reveal what The Lost Poets are all about, and it’s not upbeat bubblegum pop.

Instead, what you get is a almost menacing, grungy, snarling tone like that exhibited on the second song, Lying Down. It’s heavy, not in a bombastic sense with sledgehammer riffs, but more of a constant weight, although its ending near-silence, evoking a skipping record, struck me as odd.

The slow-developing Die To Live takes its acoustic opening about as far as one can take it without becoming trite and boring, transitioning quickly at that point into a plodding, churning heavy midsection chorus with distorted lyrics before fading away and restarting. I’ve always been partial to that soft to hard transition in various metal songs, and it’s developed nicely on this track without veering into Metallica Nothing Else Matters territory where the heavy stuff is too little and too late.

Repetitive lyrics such as you’d find in a blues song are the hallmark of the title track, Insubordia. Yet it’s not a traditional bluesy sound that the lyrics are paired with; instead, this intriguing rhythm goes in a different direction. It’s quite the haunting song.

Finally, to keep the listener off-balance, the last track Inside The Cage is a brief, distorted acoustic track, with the accents coming through on the chord changes.

On many of these albums I review, I take issue with self-production because there’s either overkill or missed opportunity with the sound. This effort has a nice production touch, as the two members seem to know just what they are looking for and execute it well, particular when one figures it was laid down as several tracks. Having the drummer and bassist as the same person may have helped in that regard, although it would be interesting to see what The Lost Poets do for a live show.

But if you’re into a a slow, almost soul-crushing grunge sound, this might be the EP to check out. Given my partiality to metal and grunge I actually rather liked it, so I encourage you to listen for yourself.