In the music realm, labels and terms get tossed around way too loosely in order to try and quantify what is happening in a movement. From the early 00’s showing a boom in emo, to the “The bands” arriving around that same time, music critics and journalists like to make their mark on trying to pigeonhole different waves of music momentum. The term “supergroup” started when established bands would venture into other projects and explore their creativity in other ways. L.S. Dunes have been coined as a supergroup since they feature members of Thursday, Circa Survive, Coheed & Cambria, plus the mighty My Chemical Romance, so it’s hard to argue against the moniker. Usually when a supergroup forms, one band member tends to have their footprint more on the sound than others, much like how Audioslave still sounded Rage Against the Machine with a different vocalist. However, on Past Lives, this particular supergroup seem like they’ve being playing music together their whole lives, since the songs are well-constructed, balanced, and each band member utilizes their talent to put their stamp on it. While the introduction for L.S. Dunes came in the raucous lead single of “Permanent Rebellion,” a near-perfect punk rock track, Past Lives explores the depths of each band members’ creative abilities.
The album opens with “2022,” as lead vocalist Anthony Green wails, “I’m not afraid to try,” as a rallying cry for L.S. Dunes to investigate just where their musical adventure would take them. The songs on Past Lives are cohesive, yet each song sounds slightly different in its variation and song structure to keep things interesting. For example, on “Antibodies,” L.S. Dunes are able to build out a song based on lead guitarist Travis Stever’s spiraling riffing in the verses and choruses to allow for Green to sing his passionate lyrics with veteran ease. “Grey Veins” utilizes a great bass line from Tim Payne, while Frank Iero and Stever’s guitar playing complements the pacing set by drummer Tucker Rule. The band is fully aware of each others collective strengths, and they hone in on each of these parts majestically throughout the record.
”Like Forever” has Frank Iero’s punk rock spirit all over it as the up-tempo song explodes out the gate with some impressive vocal range from Green. The chorus of, “Go through it all at once (You’ve got no witness to your photograph) / Tap dancing on the edge (You’ve got to seal the code in 5G tied) / Go through it all at once / They’ve got no way to prove that it was me (Don’t think to save),” features some haunting vocals from Anthony Green as he changes up his approach in the refrain to inject a unique life into the track. “Blender” is a mid-tempo rock and roll song that bounces along at a nice pacing to showcase the impressive guitar playing from Iero and Stever, while Tucker Rule’s drum fills keeps the song remaining a standout.
The title track does a good job of opening the back half of the LP on the right path forward, as the band continues to explore just where this musical pairing would take them. “It Takes Time” opens with some strange sounding riffs, but the crowd pleasing punk rock chorus of, “Devolution demands / Devour everything and fire across the multiverse / To collect, collect, collect my anchor / To collect, collect, collect my end / To collect, collect, collect my anchor / Matter over mind / One day at a time,” allows for the song to save itself from being unmemorable. “Bombsquad” opens with some wailing riffing from Stever before Iero adds his unique element to the song, while Tucker Rule’s percussion remains on point. Green’s vocals sound a bit subdued in the verses of this song since producer Will Yip chose to have the guitars be the focal point of this particular track.
”Grifter” is the only song that I feel could’ve been left off of Past Lives as a B-side since it doesn’t seem to have the same punch as the rest of the material. The song redeems itself in the chorus, much like many of the other tracks, and the backing instrumentation still complements the vocals of Green nicely. “Permanent Rebellion” is still quite possibly my favorite punk rock song to come out of this band, and year, since it features a stellar opening sequence that initially reminded me of Yellowcard’s “Lights and Sounds,” yet L.S. Dunes add other elements to their song to keep it from being an homage to the similarly-constructed Yellowcard single.
Closing out Past Lives with the old school croon of “Sleep Cult” is a nice choice, since this aggressive set of songs benefits from a picturesque ballad to close out this band’s debut. Anthony Green sounds better than he’s ever been on songs like this that further showcase his impressive range, control and overall tone to his voice. The 50’s pop of “Shadoop-shooby-doo’s” is followed up with a “Sorry that I wish that I was dead,” and it keeps L.S. Dunes focused on leaving their legacy intact by paying direct homage to the music that came before them.
In the introduction I mentioned just how much music journalists love to put a label or tag on anything new that starts up in a scene, yet it’s quite difficult to write off L.S. Dunes as “just another supergroup.” Each of these talented musicians leave their fingerprints all over this record that has elements of what makes each of them tick, and so utterly creative in their musical endeavors. Labels or tags be damned, but L.S. Dunes may have just made the most definitive punk rock record of 2022.