The first thing which jumps out at the music fan upon encountering The Lost Poets, a “sludge” grunge rock duo from Stockholm, is the fact that their faces are never shown in their photos or videos. They are rather unlike their techno counterparts such as Daft Punk or Deadmau5, however, as the head regalia they don seems to be ever-changing. Rather than one distinguishing costume, black stockings, gas masks and even hazmat suits with hoses are employed by Petter Ossian Strömberg and David Rosengren to create an anonymous, “faceless” quality to their outward image.
Less gimmick and more art, it seems that The Lost Poets wish to pair their unique, very downtempo grunge with a visage which is equally nihilistic and industrial in their new single and its accompanying video, Mouth. The single was released in late December last year, and is a follow-up to the group’s first EP, Insubordia, which released in May. Insubordia did well enough to earn itself a Spotify playlist, as it immediately defined The Lost Poets’ unique sound, which they call “swamp blues,” “sludge” and the more ubiquitous “grunge.”
“Sludge” rock is probably a less well-known term than grunge to most rock fans. It refers generally to a version of grunge rock which has a much slower tempo and guitars with heavy feedback, which to some may sound sloppy. The guitars are also where some draw parallels between sludge and blues, but in The Lost Poets’ case, this comparison does not quite fit. If anything, Mouth leans more toward industrial rock than blues. The same is generally true on most of the tracks in Insubordia. Only one song called Die to Live, which is mostly acoustic, has the guitar-picking “swamp blues” feel with which the duo identify themselves.
The grunge side of The Lost Poets largely comes out in singer and guitarist David Rosengren’s vocals, which are similar in tone and timbre to Chris Cornell’s from Soundgarden, though Rosengren seems a little more able to carry a melody than Cornell. Indeed, The Lost Poets name Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age and many other 90s and early 00s bands as their major influences. The band’s grunge influence is also noticeable throughout their song composition, with makes nods to the likes of Alice in Chains, Tool and Toadies.
With all of these heavy grunge influences, listeners may think that all The Lost Poets bring to the table is throwback grunge and a “no face” theme to their videos, but this is not the case. 90s nostalgia will definitely be a part of the band’s draw for Generation X music fans, but The Lost Poets have modernized and brought a lot of other elements to their sound. Most markedly in Mouth, there is a discernible industrial flavor to the track, and even though it is relatively slow in tempo and lacking any major electronic component, the heavy feedback from both Rosengren’s guitar and Strömberg’s bass create the industrial backdrop for Rosengren’s simmering vocals.
The video for Mouth, available on The Lost Poets’ YouTube page, plays up the industrial feel of the song, as shots of the faceless Strömberg and Rosengren in industrial-looking warehouses appear on the screen in vintage shot-overlay style. The video is downtempo, creepy and eerie, much like the song and all of The Lost Poets’ music. The link to the video appears below in “Sources.”
The Lost Poets are an interesting combination of artistic concept meets modernized grunge. They already seem to have a very distinct style despite only being active for eight months, though it seems with their newest venture that their sound is also flexible and evolving. From Mouth, fans of the new duo can only imagine what may come next out of the creative and talented Rosengren and Strömberg. Mouth and Insubordia can be streamed on Soundcloud or Spotify, or purchased via Amazon on The Lost Poets’ website. All links are provided in “Sources” below.
Review by Layla Klamt