Down I Go
You’re Lucky God That I Cannot Reach You
27 August 2015 – Holy Roar Records
01. Mother In The Pen
02. The Serpent of Lagarfljót
03. The Hired Hand & The Lake Dwellers
04. The Slaying of Skeggi
05. Of Marbendill
06. Strike It While It’s Still On My Nose
07. My Old Lady Wants Something For Her Whorl
08. An Outlaw Killed
09. Drangey Consecrated
10. The Sending
After six years and several themed EPs and albums, quaint British hardcore band Down I Go called it quits in 2011 in the only way appropriate: by releasing a song explaining why they broke up (“We Live in Different Countries“)
Like movie monsters between films, or the Mexican food you had for lunch, they lay dormant until they suddenly find a reason to come out of hiding at the strangest of times (What? Michael Myers came back on Halloween? Again?!). In Down I Go’s case, this reason was an Icelandic fan (I didn’t know there were more than two of us to be completely honest) who offered them the use of his countryside cabin to write a new album. Anxious to take a vacation paid for by fans, Down I Go saw an opportunity in the ever growing industry of funding your pet projects via crowdfunding.
I’m joking of course, but they did really go for Kickstarter (one with very fair pledge vs reward ratios I might add) and although they didn’t pull an Exploding Kittens and turn the entire internet on its side with the amount of money they acquired, they raised enough to make You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You a reality and boy am I glad they did.
Opener “Mother in the Pen” is a strangely sombre note on which to start. Featuring the guest vocals of Sweet Billy Pilgrim’s Tim Elsenburg, the album sets a tone quite different to previous Down I Go albums – cranked with energy as they normally are – but follow-up “The Serpent of Lagarfljót” kicks in with the good old noise we all know and love. Throughout the album we’re presented with all the reasons fans mourned the loss of Down I Go back in 2011: weird aggression, weirder catchiness and weirdly sophisticated use of non-rock band instruments – in this case, mostly brass and woodwind.
Always lyrically thematic, the focus on You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is Icelandic folklore, which provides a fun, extra dimension for me as an Icelander – but even if you know nothing about it, there’s more than enough substance in the music and vocals without a deep understanding of the source material.
Pete Fraser’s vocals vary from screams to cleans within most songs, matched by the same variety of aggression vs melody by the instrumental side. The scales have been tipped slightly in comparison to earlier material, with Down I Go’s softer side more prominent – especially on the album opener and “Strike It While It’s Still On My Nose“.
This all makes sense based on what I heard from the band when I met up with them during their time in Iceland. They talked about this album being their least weird one and possibly the catchiest yet. The brass and sax combo is hardly surprising; Pete is not only – or even mainly – a vocalist; he plays the sax professionally, and as such has numerous connections to wildly talented session musicians. Another guest on the album, Jamie Lenman, has actually enlisted Pete’s services before (brandishing a sax and a gimp mask in Lenman’s video for “All The Things You Hate About Me, I Hate Them Too“), and returns the favour with some particularly lung-busting bellows.
This may very well be the best album this glorious group of noisemongers have ever made, and even if you may have a preference for another one You’re Lucky God That I Cannot Reach You will inevitably get credit for not only being a fitting and deserved swansong for Down I Go, but the most cohesive and best written as well. We’re all lucky that, with the help of the internet, we could reach Down I Go one last time.