REVIEW ROUND-UP: LostAlone, The Bobby Lees, Scarlet Dorn

A metal rectangle with three circles in it, each with a different design inside


The Warring Twenties

Remember these guys? You should, seeing as LostAlone were one tipped to be rock’s next big thing in the early 2010s, only to split before that could properly come to fruition. Since then, frontman Steven Battelle has been on his own musical journey, from songwriting to releasing a fairly genre-agnostic portfolio of solo material, but it hasn’t felt quite as impactful as LostAlone did in their prime. That was around 2013 when their steam was truly unparalleled, drawing comparisons to Queen in a glam-pop grandiosity bred into the most melodic Britrock around.

Clearly some of that fuel is still left over as well, as The Warring Twenties picks up from exactly where they left off with nary a beat missed or a hair out of place. It’s maybe not brimming with the same excitement, but it’s definitely still on the same page—towering hard rock hooks doused with pop sensibilities matched by its gloss and bravado. As an opener, Enduring The Dream establishes that with few reservations, between the incandescent guitar leads and vocal histrionics from Battelle held firm by some flooring harmonies. It’s a reintroduction that lays down everything great about LostAlone immediately, with little deviation from then on. Well, there’s Over Under A Spell which takes on an awkward, Muse-esque choppiness, but otherwise, The Warring Twenties gets back to business with extreme efficiency.

Crucially, it all feels big too, enough to match the scope of global tumult informing LostAlone’s writing that easily could feel like safe ground to tread if not for how massive they go. It’s not a case of bricking themselves out to simply fill negative space either; The Warring Twenties is so effortlessly grand and sweeping. Punchline Punched Back and Toy Ghosts pull on wonderfully rich vocal harmonies to match their instrumental pyrotechnics; at the same time, there’s a guitar palette that’s so full of life while still having some crunch and meat to it. Even with some occasional mixing quibbles by no means exclusive here—i.e. wishing the bass could have a bit more volume at times—it’s all consistently engaging and satisfying to get swept up by.

And that’s ultimately where LostAlone have always lived within modern rock. They’re sold on grandeur and verve, and The Warring Twenties is no different to where they were a decade ago, sans the rust that one might expect. Almost surprisingly so, they’ve lost absolutely no litheness or punch, and that translates to an airtight comeback album with little to really complain about. Even when they’re without the buzz that once insulated them so heavily, that’s still unquestionably a win. • LN

For fans of: Muse, Fightstar, Arcane Roots

‘The Warring Twenties’ by LostAlone is released on 30th September on Dharma Records.

Sam Quartin sitting on the ground next to a pig

The Bobby Lees


On Bellevue, The Bobby Lees’ third full-length album, they might very well prove themselves to be one of the most underrated bands around within a classic alternative space. Underrated from the perspective of the general public, that is; they already boast the likes of Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and Henry Rollins among their supporters, a parade of punk icons that speaks volumes with regards to where The Bobby Lees are coming from in a creative space. Not only does the high watermark cross over, but Bellevue’s roots stem to similar underground spaces, ragged and gnarled and, quite frankly, more exciting.

It’s certainly a far cry from the stigma that ‘garage-rock’ has earned for itself, with The Bobby Lees’ particularly take owing more to earlier variants with a rock ‘n’ roll heat to them. As such, the guitars spit and the bass quakes, with restless, relentless energy that’s completely excised any unnecessary mass. This is just about as lean as rock music gets without being skeletal, with songs like Ma Likes To Drink and In Low happily dipping below two minutes with the knowledge that there’s enough fire within them to satisfy.

But there are also layers to The Bobby Lees that turn things up even more. Sam Quartin is the main attributable factor there, not only through her writing inspired by alcoholic hallucinations and psychoses experienced while living in a mental hospital, but also in a delivery that captures the frayed feverishness of that past. She’s got the perfect vocal tone for this sort of thing, deliberately untrained to allow the hollers and spikes more emphasis in the performance. That feeds into moments of creaking theatricality on Strange Days and Little Table, more piano-driven and Vaudevillian to highlight the simultaneous playfulness and insidiousness that The Bobby Lees pack. Of course, the punk is always the main attraction, and when that’s particularly barbed on a song like Greta Van Fake, it makes for some really strong notes to hit.

At the centre of it all though, it’s just great when a band gets it like The Bobby Lees do—punk with the grit and gristle left in, and the irrepressible personality that’s self-evidently a great feature. Theirs is a swift strike but one that leaves one hell of a mark, packaged in a ridiculously cool, vivacious way that keeps that full-steam momentum going. Great stuff that mightn’t warrant too much said about it, but slays wholeheartedly regardless. • LN

For fans of: The Stooges, Black Lips, Viagra Boys

‘Bellevue’ by The Bobby Lees is released on 6th October on Ipecac Records.

Scarlet Dorn sitting on a black throne, wearing a black crown

Scarlet Dorn

Queen Of Broken Dreams

Symphonic metal can be a wonderfully experimental subgenre of metal ranging between the heavy leaning on classical and operatic sounds from the likes of Nightwish through to the more pop and electronic influences such as Delain. Scarlet Dorn fall into the latter embracing an array of pop, rock and electronic aspects into their take on symphonic metal, while adding a distinctive twist with their composition and performance styles.

Queen Of Broken Dreams, the band’s third album, showcases an elegant gothic sound that transposes onto the varied musical styles. Scarlet Dorn dive straight into their record with a dramatic, industrial-edged opener, Falling. Followed by Born To Suffer, the first of a number of dark rock ballads on Queen Of Broken Dreams, the title track then returns to a higher pace of energy with up-tempo percussion and intertwining piano, electronics and distorted guitars. The chorus delivers an anthemic sound with Scarlet’s vocals soaring beautifully above, and yet there is a permanent darkness travelling throughout the track. It’s an incredibly haunting effect that’s created by the way in which all of the instrumental layers are balanced against each other.

Taking another turn, Your Highness delves into bluesy rock rhythms and punchy beats before A Light That Blinds The Truth brings a haunting sound. The latter half of the album comprises of gentler, more ballad-type songs. When You See Me Again, Love Wasn’t Made For Me and What Are We To Do all deliver lyrical narratives of love and loss alike to pop, but all cohesively maintain Scarlet Dorn’s graceful tone. Weaving distorted guitars and electronics into these ballads, the overall sound is enhanced into something intensely emotive. The instrumental layers used throughout these tracks and more, are all beautifully balanced and well produced. Scarlet’s voice seamlessly adapts to the accompanying music all well carrying the ability to captivate regardless of changes in mood. A Million Miles Away draws the release to a close with a sombre aspect, concluding by enveloping the listener in an atmospheric abyss.

Queen Of Broken Dreams unveils a ghostly dream-like experience venturing across lands of the heavy and serene. The greatest extremes of musically influences appear in the former half of the album and it would have been more effective, perhaps, to balance the textural variety across the latter half. However, Scarlet Dorn take a unique approach to their creative endeavours adapting the symphonic metal genre to suit their musicality. • HR

For fans of: Within Temptation, Epica, Lord Of The Lost

‘Queen Of Broken Dreams’ by Scarlet Dorn is released on 30th September on SPV Recordings.

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

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