If you want to be considered a great artist, there are a few ways to go about it. You can create a perfect introductory project and then follow that up with a release that’s even greater than the previous one, while promising another upcoming project in the pipeline. Of course this is the hardest way to do it, but it’s the only way to build a true, faithful following. With last year’s stunning “The Club Downstairs”, UK’s solo project Preventer, guided by the steady hand of multi-instrumentalist Deedee Ashlee ensured that the first option was secured. As opening alt-rock statements go, “The Club Downstairs” is about as good as it gets.
Preventer combined clever, vivid lyricism with taut, muscular rhythms and killer hooks, resulting in a distinctive, quintessentially raw sound that was instantly identifiable and uniquely potent, compared to the sterile sounds their contemporaries were putting out. Musically, the message was clear – Preventer was a project to take seriously, and a sound to be reckoned with.
2021 sees Preventer realize its second goal with the release of the single “Sentinels”. It takes everything good about the previous release, adds a more fleshed out sound, and a distinct rhythmic urgency, for a track that raises the watermark for Preventer. Deedee Ashlee again takes care of all the instruments and vocals, while he shares the production duties with CeePee.
The third premise, mentioned at the beginning, is of course completed with the announcement of Preventer’s upcoming album “Tombs”, from which this single is lifted. Where before you’d find dry, sharp and gritty sonic angles, here on “Sentinels”, you’ll find swirling, atmospheric layers and hard-driving fuzzy edges. This brings added complexity and a mysterious darkness to the music.
Even the lyrics venture into more profound and disturbing imagery: “What drives a man to drown his heart. And sacrifice his art. Empty promises. The madness will pervade to every part. Whatever hope he left behind. Will damn and cast him blind. Tell him one more time. Your body’s on the line.” This is a powerful and endlessly rewarding track, made by an artist who takes a giant leap towards fulfilling his potential.
This is tough time for alt-rock, indie or punk to emerge and rise above the scintillating synthetic noise of EDM, Trap and Pop. But somehow Preventer gives me the impression that Deedee Ashlee is going to make the music he wants to make, not the music you want him to make. He is working overtime to make his tracks sound immediate and thrilling. The guitars chime, the drums bang, the basslines roll, the keys swirl, and the vocals intrigue.
“Sentinels” is dense, rugged, and yet refined, and the way the instrumentation swirls around and envelopes you, creates a sort of visceral intensity. If you have any affection for the genre, this will not only grab you immediately, but it will reward repeated listens like any good rock n’ roll anthem does.