Artist: Lesser Men
Album: Loathe – EP
We’ve all heard the term “bigger man” before. You got into a confrontation with some douche at a gas station and, before things came to blows, you stepped down, avoiding a physical altercation. You were the bigger man. But what about those that seek—no, thrive—on acts of aggression? Those who depend on arguments and verbal disagreements turning physical for a thrill? Those are Lesser Men—not to be mistaken with the fresh, young melodic hardcore act hailing from New England. With their debut EP, Loathe, Lesser Men launch an all out war on the listener’s emotional proclivities, battering them with cunning, creative lyrics that carve gashed into skin and soul—all over a colorful (if not slightly haphazard) musical canvas.
Loathe likely gains it’s name from an enormous bulk of its lyrical content—whether it’s self-loathing or a lurid dislike for a scorned lover or absent family member. Where Lesser Men’s instrumentation is inconsistent, their vocal effort is nothing short of marvelous. Every syllable, whether it’s the eerie singing on “Zaleplon” or the gut wrenching delivery of “Loathe”‘s refrain comes straight from the heart, crushing the listener’s ribs with emotional heft. Lesser Men prove themselves to be a vocal force to be reckoned with, using a raw, gritty scream that accentuates each instance of the suffering that serves as a bulk of the lyrical content. The EP’s self-titled track is the best single example of this, as when the line “just a few more pills would have been perfect” hits the listener, it may have well been a shotgun to the gut, as they’re left bleeding out every bit of emotion they can muster.
Where Lesser Men’s convincing, massive vocal performance is practically perfection, the band’s instrumental accompaniment is left lacking. Some tracks—like “Loathe” and “On Wax” are absolutely on point, with balanced fretwork that roams from rampaging aggression to melancholy and energetic percussion to serve as a bouncy backdrop. However, moments of “Reverse Temperament,” as well as “Wichita” and “Zaleplon” struggle to find that balance, with instrumentals that are either too loud and distract the listener from the incredible vocal performance (or drown them out entirely) or are far too quiet, murmuring in the background as if they were being played in another room. These tracks also feature portions where there is dysfunction within the band’s dynamic, contrasting bold, brazen riffs with subtle, ambient percussion. When Lesser Men have the balances aligned, however, they are unstoppable; as “On Wax” and “Loathe” so effectively prove.
Even with minor musical pitfalls, Lesser Men easily lure their way into the listener’s psyche with catchy vocal patterns and honest, emotionally compromising lyrics. The end of “False Integrity” is sure to get caught on repeat In the listener’s head, even in spite of the song’s lukewarm beginning. Likewise, “Wichita” has a touching, striking beginning that almost excuses the clumsy climax at the end of the song. However, “Loathe” and “On Wax” are two instances of supreme songwriting and excellent musicianship that Lesser Men bring the listener, establishing there isn’t much “Lesser” about them. These tracks are the diamonds in Loathe‘s rough—the moments that will keep the listener coming back for seconds and the sections that will spark interest in the hearts of the genre’s most elite ears, driving them to keep tabs on the budding band’s future endeavors.
For Fans Of: Secret Keeper, Defeater, Liferuiner, Pianos Become the Teeth
By: Connor Welsh