An abrupt departure from a band as talented and well-known as Placebo would’ve broken a lesser man, but Steve Hewitt – who co-wrote and played drums on the band’s first 5 albums – proved his own creativity was just as visceral and intriguing when his new outfit, Love Amongst Ruin, released their first self-titled debut album in 2010. Returning in 2015 with their second album Lose Your Way, and with Perry Bamonte now on bass (The Cure), Love Amongst Ruin prove their musical direction is anything but wayward.
The brooding bass line on opening track ‘Lose Your Way’ sets the precedent for the rest of the record. Hewitt muses “I can’t believe you killed the world of beauty”, as atmospheric guitar and keyboard ricochet around him; something which will, no doubt, translate well when played to a live audience.
‘Modern War Song’ has a gradual intro, with Hewitt’s echoing vocals asking the listener to “fess up” as the song develops its steady, marching rhythm. The track culminates in a cathartic explosion of heavy guitar and boisterous drumming two thirds of the way through, delivering a much needed, powerful aural release. Discussing the video for ‘Modern Love’ in a recent interview, Hewitt said he wanted to show “the invisible scars” soldiers carry whilst away from home, and returning post-war. His efforts on this track are mirrored in the affecting video.
‘Watch Myself’ is reminiscent of the sound of both Hewitt and Bamonte’s former bands; ethereal reverb on the guitar and pensive vocals giving the track a haunted quality. The aggressively named ‘Swan Killer’ is heavier in sound and theme, opening with a distorted guitar riff, before Hewitt asks “what are we gonna do baby, when all the love is gone?” in the chorus. It’s not the strongest song on the album, but it’s a welcome release from the intensity of previous tracks.
‘So Close’ begins with a disconcerting, gothic piano motif, but the pace of the track changes a third of the way through, bursting into a powerful, anthemic fusion of guitar, bass and drums. Hewitt’s repeated line -“So close to being anything, so close to being more than I’ve ever been”- is an endearing affirmation of strength and perseverance.
‘Menace Ballad’ sounds like it should be an unsettling, spiteful track, but Hewitt’s lyrics give it a softer, poetic quality. ‘Oh God’, however, reveals a depth of pain and sensitivity that is kept hidden on other tracks on the record. It would be too easy to assume the lyrics “there were no pleasantries, undermined the things I’d achieved” are aimed at Hewitt’s former Placebo band-mates – Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal – but the captivating words and music will resonate beyond this situation for most listeners.
Tracks 9 & 10 are revisions of ‘Lose Your Way’ and ‘Swan Killer’. Whilst they demonstrate the band’s diversity, perhaps it would’ve been better to list them as bonus tracks, and not closing tracks on the album. Having said this, they keep within the themes of development, distance, and time, all of which infiltrate the tracks on Lose Your Way. With the release of this album it seems that, for the current members of Love Amongst Ruin, the healing process is almost over; if not already complete.
Lose Your Way is released on 29 June via Ancient B Records