Severed marks the official full-length debut from innovative London alt-rock quintet Curse of Lono. Formed in early 2015, singer-guitarist Felix Bechtolsheimer recruited former Hey Negrita bandmate Neil Findlay, alongside lead guitarist Joe Hazell, bassist Charis Anderson and keyboardist Dani Ruiz Hernandez, to complete the Curse of Lono line-up. A year later, the band’s critically acclaimed self-titled EP was released.
The band’s debut takes the form of an emotional ten-track collection that recounts stories of death, infidelity, sexual jealousy and addiction written over a fourteen-year period. Opening with the Americana-layered ‘Five Miles’, the record begins in an upbeat, blues-heavy fashion with a subtle modern twist. ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ maintains this atmosphere, quickening the pace with a blend of harmonious vocals and a rockabilly undertone.
‘Each Time You Hurt’ reverts back to the band’s indie-folk roots, with lyrical content that focuses heavily on cynicism, heartbreak and emotional hardships – a recurring theme throughout the record. This is particularly noticeable as the track fades out into the masterpiece that is ‘Just My Head’. The haunting atmosphere of the chorus and crooning guitars, placed strategically throughout, help to emphasize the emotional intensity behind this track, solidifying its place as one of the best tracks on the album.
Keeping up the habit of standalone masterpieces, next comes the goth-tainted ‘London Rain’. Bechtolsheimer’s vocals begin to incorporate a darker tone reminiscent of Johnny Cash, broken by intriguing synth-fuelled melodies courtesy of Hernandez. Things begin to mellow out again with the indie-folk sounds of ‘He Takes My Place’, while the bluesy ‘Send for the Whisky’ provides a crowd pleaser with the help of group vocals and infectious hooks.
When ‘All I Got’ takes over, the atmosphere of the record changes dramatically – straying from the upbeat folk rock harmonies that the band have claimed as their signature sound, and taking the form of a haunting and tear-jerking synth ballad. It certainly marks the most beautiful track on the record and portrays the band’s immaculate ability to experiment with a variety of genres.
Nearing the end of the record, ‘Welcome Home’ marks a chilled country-esque effort with an imagery of summery back-porch gatherings yet a macabre lyrical theme of death, before the defeated ‘Don’t Look Down’ represents the idea of giving up.
Standing as a high contender for one of the best debuts of 2017 so far, Severed delivers an alternative blend of genres while brilliantly portraying a variety of difficult subject matter. It’s an album that will undoubtedly give listeners high hopes for anything the band may release in the future.
Severed is out now on Submarine Cat Records.