Lewis Del Mar

Columbia Records, 2016


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Well, I had originally planned to write about a totally different album, but I fell down a rabbit hole with this weird and wonderful EP (appropriately titled EP) from Brooklyn-based duo Lewis Del Mar. Based out of Rockaway Beach, singer/guitarist Danny Miller and drummer/producer Max Harwood have crafted a sound that defies categorization: it’s a little bit folky, infused with glitchy electronica and mixed media samples, with a pop melodiousness that has had me playing these four tracks on loop. Experimental is a good catchall term, but Miller describes the Lewis Del Mar vibe even better when he told Billboard, “Like if Jack Johnson called up Kanye and asked him to produce his next album. They go off to Hawaii and trip on mushrooms and come back with this crazy record.” my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The EP launches off with startling swagger on “Loud(y)” – a plucked acoustic guitar riff, then the line: “Can you please sit the fuck down?” It’s a complex, constantly shape-shifting track, from the drums that morph from a languid shuffle to a towering ascendancy, to the inclusion of sampled snippets of spoken word. Throughout, Miller’s vocals provide an anchor, leading us smoothly through the rise and fall of this dynamic instrumentation. It’s almost reminiscent of the Black Keys crashing into James Blake, bluesy yet endlessly layered.

Lewis Del Mar tows a fascinating line between more processed, industrial sounds and loose, naturalistic rhythms, embodied on second cut “Wave(s).” The vocals are a languorous swoon, backed by layers of instrumentation that almost feel discordant at times before gelling together into a glorious swell. Next up, “Malt Liquor” has an eerie quality to it, threaded through with distorted vocals, choppy drums, and flickering acoustic guitar. “We almost go insane trying to chase some pleasure brand new,” Mitchell intones on the refrain, creating a song equivalent of a blood-red sunset shading its way toward darkness, ominous but impossibly lovely. 

Closer “Memories” is similarly slow burning. It starts off with a fracture: “It was drizzling on the day she asked me for a divorce / I told her ‘Of course,’ / What else do you say?” The instrumentation is appropriately jagged, jammed with crackling percussion. But soon, the song gives way to spirals of acoustic guitar and a vibrant, falsetto refrain, leading to the full-throated chorus: “Memories evaporate / It’s been this way since I was born / I’m gonna remember what I want.” By its close, “Memories” has become a whirling jam, rounding out EP as vibrantly as it began.

Lewis Del Mar has made an EP that perfectly encapsulates the locale that created it: the lovely, gritty oasis of Rockaway Beach, inexorably linked to New York City, a sonic mashup of natural beauty and industrial coolness. This duo is an act to watch, and I imagine I’ll keep spinning this EP, wishing it were longer, in anticipation of their full-length release.

Rating: A-

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© 2016 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.