AUGUST is the long-awaited sophomore LP from Queens-based indie duo Lewis Del Mar. With their 2016 self-titled debut, the Danny Miller and Max Harwood partnership established Lewis Del Mar as a provocateur of the NYC indie scene. Lewis Del Mar oozed a boisterous, sensual swagger rippling through such tracks like “Such Small Scenes,” “Loud(y),” “Puerto Cabezas, NI,” “Tap Water Drinking,” and “Malt Liquor.”
The follow-up lacks the daring bravado of their heavy-hitting debutant, yet AUGUST displays a more sophisticated and vulnerable sound to the Lewis Del Mar catalogue. Divided into three chapters, AUGUST opens frenetically with the barrage of musical layering and distorted vocals from Harwood and Miller in “Fever (CH. I).” The “fever dream” then transitions into a more refined radio-friendly alt-hit “The Ceiling”—one of the marquee tracks on the record. “Do You Need Me” and “Rosalie (CH. II)” follow these opening bangers, but are too reminiscent to the tempo and arrangement of their previous work, prompting me to think that they may even be b-sides from the Lewis Del Mar project.
Sandwiching the out-of-place tracks is the beautiful “Morning Rush (Interlude)”, which highlights Miller’s sultry vocals in this slow-burning interjection. Following the introduction to chapter two is “Sewers”—my favorite produced track on AUGUST with its ambient aesthetic and vocal alternations to match as if Miller were crooning from the bowels of a sewer. “Cold Turkey” starts with an encouraging beat but fails to build up and follow the exquisite “Sewers.” “Shutter,” the closer to the second chapter, is marginally better than its predecessor for its lingering lyrical message of “hoping for peace.”
“Border (CH. III)” improves the direction of the album resoundingly. The track is undoubtedly the strongest selection on the LP as it evokes a polished sensitivity complimented by Miller’s full and haunting falsetto. “TV” matches the uplifting sound of “Painting (Masterpiece)” from their first record, but keenly follows the more subdued motif echoing from “Border.” The smooth sounding “Gloom” sounds akin to the dreamy, relaxing sounds of Feng Suave and serves as solid lead-in to “Where Are You”—another lounge-like dream with the duo’s worldly percussion underlying the track. “Bloom” is the final full-length track on the record and does a serviceable job of bookending the emotional gravitas contained in “Border” and the third chapter as a whole.
Albeit lacking the in-your-face qualities of Lewis Del Mar, AUGUST delivers a unique blend of pacing that lends itself to a more mature development of the NYC indie duo’s sound. For me, it is the middle of the record that lacks the energy and emotion of the first and third sections bring respectively. I would love to hear Lewis Del Mar refine the heart-wrenching ballad like “Border” in future projects. All in all, I find myself listening to August on repeat.
AUGUST track list
- Fever (CH. I)
- The Ceiling
- Do You Need Me
- Morning Rush (Interlude)
- Rosalie (CH. II)
- Cold Turkey
- Border (CH. III)
- Where Are You Now