With a solidified lineup, Upstairs Downstairs focuses on the band’s musical charms
20 Sided Dice
Link: 20 Sided Records
A band that started out as a community stays communal, no matter how structured they get. Upstairs Downstairs is not named after the British TV show (although maybe just as elegant in pop culture); the name comes from the upstairs and downstairs of the house the band lived in together. So maybe it’s not as literary as the TV show, but it does not distract from the feeling of intimate expression their music portrays.
Even bigger news than the album itself is the secureness this band currently faces. The band transitioned from members freely coming in and out of the picture to a stable lineup, and I think it shows in this self-titled release.
The album is strong, representing seclusion in sound. Transitions flow into each other while keeping the songs crashing on the beach, offsetted by some breaks, and carefully not destroying the thematics. The album moves gently and unaffecting of the fact that you may get lost in the gentle murmur of soft feedback in “Rotation Pt. II.”
This array of dark and melodic pop is as embracing as a cloudy day wanting to show off its bite but the sincerity keeps the mood calm. “Casualty” never nullifies the sound to turn it into laissaz faire mush. But the guitar work softens its approach when faced with “Stationary’s Helping.” What you experience now is a band confident enough to let the essence of their music take control.
“Rotten Driver” feels like Athens in the 1980s. The delicacy may point with alternative college rock delight but their mysterious demeanor makes me think of bands like Lush, which is probably why I like this album so much.
When you listen to this album, you hear it in their punctuation. But with the softened tone, the mystery remains and that allure of the ghosts of the Sunday comedown keeps you coming back. If you want your mind to be lost in daydreams and need something to help take you away, this is it.