LVL UP – “Hidden Driver”

Shawn Brackbill

LVL UP – “Hidden Driver”

Shawn Brackbill

What motivates us, pushes us forward? Are we responsible for our own decisions, or we nudged by the guiding hand of fate? Are we our own creators and, conversely, or own destroyers? Or can something else be blamed for our good luck, our misfortune? Return To Love, LVL UP’s third album and Sub Pop debut, grapples with these questions about agency, translating the anxiety that comes with feeling powerless into twitchy and dynamic rock songs.

“Hidden Driver” is the record’s breathless kickoff and second single. On it, songwriter Dave Benton questions whether everything that happens in life is the result of a high power subtly course-correcting, presenting obstacles until we see the error of our ways: “God is peeking, softly speaking/ Fucking every thing until I do see,” he sings. The song is conflicted over whether such a hidden driver even exists — the telltale sign of someone who grew up with religion and is learning to reconcile past beliefs in an all-knowing, all-powerful God with a murkier, more abstract spirituality.

The second verse repositions the biblical Garden Of Eden, portraying Eve as the one who “broke right through the mess he made, shoved an apple in his face, impaled him with a long and gnarly stake.” Was it betrayal or rebellion? An avoidable divergence, or what God wanted to happen all along? Benton “gives thanks every day” for that twist, but in his most vulnerable moments, he “still thinks of God in the same way,” placing them alongside authority figures like cops and priests and mounting things, “making rules for a body within me.” LVL UP have always concerned themselves with the more confounding aspects of fate, and “Hidden Driver” is evidence that, while they’re still not entirely sure of the answers, they’ll continue to ask the difficult questions.

Listen below.

Tour Dates:
09/09 Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5
09/10 Raleigh, NC @Hopscotch Festival
09/11 Washington, DC @ DC9
09/20 Boston, MA @ Great Scott
09/21 Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal (Bar Le “Ritz” PDB) ~
09/22 Burlington, VT @ Arts Riot ~
09/23 Durham, NH @ University of New Hampshire
09/24 New York, NY @ Market Hotel %
09/25 Philadelphia, PA @ Philamoca
09/28 New Haven, CT @ Bar
09/29 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom ^
09/30 Kingston, NY @ BSP
10/16 Olympia, WA @ Track House
10/17 Seattle, WA @ The Black Lodge
10/18 Portland, OR @ Analog Cafe
10/20 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill ^
10/21 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill ^
10/22 Pomona, CA @ VLHS
10/23 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex ^
10/29 Gambier, OH @ Kenyon College
10/30 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar *
11/01 Nashville, TN @ The High Watt *
11/02 Birmingham @ The Syndicate Lounge *
11/03 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia *
11/06 Dallas, TX @ Three Links *
11/09 Omaha, NE @ Milk Run *
11/10 Madison, WI @ The Frequency *
11/11 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean *
11/12 Lansing, MI @ The Blind Pig *

~ w/ Eskimeaux
% Record Release Show w/ Ovlov and Vagabon
^ w/ Bear Vs Shark
* w/ Alex G and Brandon Can’t Dance

Return To Love is out 9/23 via Sub Pop. Pre-order it here.

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