Lowest of the Low Sordid Fiction

With their status as one of Toronto’s most popular bands in the early ’90s, it seems sad to find the Lowest of the Low defining their first studio album in ten years by who they know rather than what they’ve accomplished. In many respects, Sordid Fiction is a sharply constructed, contemporary folk-punk record that the band’s fans will surely embrace. There is, however, an off-putting push by the band to associate themselves with younger, hipper artists or legendary musical figures. Most specifically, the Weakerthans loom large in the sound of the reunited LOTL. If it isn’t the not-so-subtle aping of the Weakerthans’ punky power-pop style (produced and mixed here by noted Weakerthans’ collaborators Ian Blurton and Adam Kasper, respectively), then it’s Stephen Stanley’s phrasing on "Your Birthday Party” and "Sharpest Pain,” which seems to have been heavily influenced by John K. Samson. Ron Hawkins solidifies such a notion outright in "Casual Overdose,” which includes the line "clap for the Weakerthans.” On "…And Then the Riot,” Hawkins tries to earn some more college rock cred by suggesting he "heard the Fembots on the radio” — a noble, community-minded gesture indeed, but one that seems forced by an old band trying to reclaim some sort of indie relevance. This may be even more difficult to achieve if they continue to send out album bios that gloat about being "under the management of (an) international powerhouse” that was the "former home to the late Clash front-man Joe Strummer.” Who the fuck cares? Unfortunately, it seems like LOTL do, and such useless baggage weighs the band down while costing Sordid Fiction the flight path it rightly deserves. (MapleMusic)