It’s not much of a stretch to call the early work of Antwerp’s Disorientations a noisy, cluttered mess. Their 2021 debut EP, Close to Disappearing, took an undercooked post-punk approach that was too light on the ‘post’ and too heavy on the ‘punk’. 2022’s Memory Lanes was even less developed – resembling an off-kilter Bailter Space more than the Chameleons or Echo and the Bunnymen, except without the former’s left-field elan.

Lost Today may as well come from another galaxy. Like many of our favored modern indie acts, Disorientations completely revamp their sound in this impressive sophomore effort. Suddenly, we’re smack-dab in early 1980s Britain, hearing that energetic post-punk/New Wave mashup we all adored back then, plus a dollop of 1990s shoegaze thrown in for good measure. Nobody can match prime-era Ian McCulloch’s voice. Still, lead singer Niels Elsermans does his best, melding the Echo vocalist’s accusatory style with the steely determination of the Chameleons’ Mark Burgess. Lost Today plays like a fun battle between those two bands, seeing which one Disorientations can resemble most on each track.

Having said all that, we’ll venture into blasphemous territory and aver that for all the Bunnymen’s post-punk bona fides, it’s joyous orchestrated pleasures like “Silver” and “Lips Like Sugar” that we remember most fondly. Lost Today tries its best to evince cool melancholy, but there’s just too much creativity here to sound anything but thrilling. Most of these tracks are constructed like mildly asynchronous pop/rock with a cutting edge. As the album’s Bandcamp page puts it: “By experimenting with additional guitar layers and atypical song structures, [Disorientation’s] new music opens up an exciting path towards an alternative and mature sound that seeks to reconcile the sharp bursts of noise rock, the melancholic atmosphere of post-punk, and an airy wall of sound reminiscent of the early 1990s shoegaze vibe.”

In a just world, “Crawlin’” would make an excellent highway anthem, one of precious few songs to fit that description in recent years. Opener “Loner” hits the veins with a late-Rush, “Distant Early Warning” vibe inside its Alex Lifeson guitar miasma. The ringing, runaway-train chords of “Not Here” and “Escape” should yank the listener out of whatever doldrums your Frosted Mini-Wheats saw fit to deliver this morning. Lightning-quick “Cynical” and the closing title track probably come closest to the early Script of the Bridge-era Chameleons, while “Drift” employs just the right amount of dissonance for its genre.

Lyric-wise, Disorientations liken their music to the “contradictions in life… [musing] about the intense attraction and repulsion of loving people around us and the appearance of rough emptiness when you lose something fragile”. Again, I’m not sure about their moody intent, but as a sonic experience, Lost Today borders on joyous–thanks largely to tight songwriting and welcome adherence to a sorely-missed music style.

Some European artists, such as the Soundtrack of Our Lives, can sound uneven and over-simplified to American ears. Disorientations’ Lost Today is a success from every angle, spicing its post-punk complexity with a rousing hit of nostalgic Britannia.

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