Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
The Less Dead’s EP, Creature Comforts Part 1, is full of warm vocal melodies, lyrics that tell stories of loss, hope and love and shimmering synth textures that support those melodies along with drums and bass that propel the music along with smoothness and energy. It’s a strong collection of well-considered vocal synthwave songs.
EP Review of Creature Comforts PT 1 by The Less Dead
The first factor I want to mention is The Less Dead’s vocals. He’s got a strong voice that carries a tune well but it’s his ability to express emotion with that voice that stands out most. There’s a great deal of feeling in it and that makes the emotive nature of the lyrics hit harder. I also want to mention Kim Michelle with whom he sings a duet. Her voice has a beautiful rich quality to it and their voices blend well.
I also enjoyed the way that The Less Dead uses synths on this EP. Rather than foregrounding them, he uses them to support the vocal melodies of the album and provide textured sounds and beats that keep the songs moving and throbbing with energy. Sometimes the best instrumentation is that which serves the needs of the song.
The lyrics of the songs on Creature Comforts Part 1 create a mood that is quite powerful and touching. They are an exploration of the aftermath of loss and struggle in a relationship, but also of wishing that things would return to the way they once were. There’s an honesty about them that rings true and made them pretty gut-punching in their emotional impact.
“Creature Comfort” has slightly tense synths that build in strength as the vocal melody moves in along with a strong beat and slowly revolving arps that move under the rising melody. The track has a and a gliding feeling moves into the track as the Less Dead’s vocals carry out over the moments of shine and warmth, strong and resonant while the beat throbs on and propels the music forward.
There’s a sense of loss in The Less Dead’s voice as he sings, "When I left, I told you to stay but now I’ve come home, you are long gone/And I guess that I’m on the run right now, I grab your things and I drive away.”
Hope still shines through despite the loss in the lines, “There’s a chance that we’re gonna make it and I know that we’re gonna fight. There’s a risk but I’m gonna take it, I’m not gonna die here tonight.”
There’s a ballad-like feel to “Ghosts” as the soft light of the synths provides aching emotion as light glimmers through them and the mid-tempo beat moves under the words that are full of deep sadness. All of the synths, drums and bass hold up the vocal melody well on this track.
Again the emotive power in The Less Dead’s voice adds weight to the words as he sings, “I've finally shouldered the blame. It's been two years since I've seen your face, because nothing’s the same.” This is contrasted with the idea that, “you're making up your memories because you've gone insane.” Something has broken and can’t be repaired.
There is pain in the lines, “I hope that your hear this song, though I know that you never will. Some places I don't go now. My life is denial” as he sings about the hurt that remains. This song touched me deeply.
“Phases” is full of high, slightly minor key synths that have a tight brightness to them as they move in dense patterns, providing a shifting and shimmering backdrop for the vocals. The driving beat and spinning arps help to energize this song.
There is a bit more defiance in the lines of this song as The Less Dead sings, “I used to be so kind. Remember when we were young and everything seemed a-okay then. Now I’ve lost myself in your lies.”
The next lines contrast an extreme intimacy with distance as they say, “I’m buried here right under your skin. You don't wanna know what I’m thinking about. Don’t take it for granted that you’ll ever see me again.”
The imagery in the words, “I used to fall over every time I thought I saw your face in the passing crowd but now I’m just a broken window” is powerfully descriptive and drove the song home for me.
There are bright skipping synths and a light drumbeat that moves underneath the soaring vocal melody on “Pictures” which features a duet with singer Kim Michelle. Her strong voice mixes well with The Less Dead’s as they both deliver an emotional punch. There’s a feeling of nostalgic warmth that pours from the music.
This is a song about a relationship that has ended, but which made a strong impact on the narrator. The lyrics express the complicated feelings well in lines like, “It's the same old daily grind. Pictures of you hung up in my mind” and the perennial question after a relationship ends, “Was it for nothing, I just have to know.”
“Stay” is defined by the sincere expressive, feeling in The Less Dead’s voice and drifting synths glide into the track along with a deep well of bass. All of these elements come together to create a touching and gentle listening experience that underlines the melancholy in the lyrics.
This is perhaps the most heartstring-tugging song on the album. The depth of the pain is made clear in powerful words like, “I'm tearing myself apart right now. Opening my mouth to scream, and your eyes look just like diamonds in the ocean.”
There’s such a feeling of loss as the narrator talks about being told, “I'll go away, for a long time, just to make it up to you” to which he replies, “You're better off without me.”
The final track, “Clarity,” is an instrumental piece full of sharp, clear sounds. There are rising and falling drifts of sound that pulse through the track along with bursts of drums. The warm, clean synths float out over the steady beat, glowing and shining. The melody sounds like crystal as it flows along. This was a gentle and smooth way to close out the EP.
Creature Comforts Part 1 was quite touching to me. The Less Dead dug deep and came out with a sincerely emotional collection of music that is full of expressive singing, glowing synths and a feeling of expressiveness and honesty to which I was drawn. I am looking forward to hearing part two.
© 2020 Karl Magi