The former college buds LVL UP, now signed to Sub Pop Records, have released their third outing Return To Love and are about to kick things off here in the UK. Here's a few words...
When we ask LVL UP about their second effort Hoodwink'd, they told us things straight: "we look back on it fondly but we are more interested in moving forward and working on new things". The "moving forward" comes with the release of Return To Love on the legendary American Indie label Sub Pop. This was last year. From Pitchfork to Rolling Stone the reviews are strong. But now the band is coming to the UK and they're ready...
LVL UP embody the career progression many bands would like to have. A very decent first record followed by a better second one. Influenced by Silver Jews and 90's Indie Rock, naturally it caught the attention of the media and a buzz formed. But they have also gone one step further than most other bands behind the scenes...
LVL UP founded a record label Double Double Whammy which is set to re-release on vinyl one of the best Indie records of last year, Hovvdy's Taster. That's a side project, for now their own release on Sub Pop takes priority. They've struck up an accord with the label and have worked together shaping the whole package; "Nick did most of the drawings and then he and Dave collaborated on the layout and design with some help from the Sub Pop design team. It was hard for us to agree on the final layout, but it happened". That's the best way to learn how to run a label, right? This has resulted in Return To Love maybe being their best effort yet.
"Having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental
when we are all pulling in different directions"
We asked the question, is Return To Love the most experimental record so far? "Yes we definitely feel that way! Not sure why it turned out that way because we didn't necessarily intend to make a record like that, but I guess having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental when we are all pulling in different directions". The band's philosophical lyrics have great impact on the way listeners approach the record, but the true consistency of the record is the genuine high-level quality of each track, not just the philosophy behind them.
Take a track such as Hidden Driver as an example. A combination of musical talent and vision creates the most important consistency of all: a record which makes you think from beginning to end. Between the mystic, wisdom and the theories, this is the band's sound developing towards their happy end point. "In the beginning it was an aesthetic decision born out of necessity, but lately our sound has been shaped by a desire to find unique sounds in the studio".