Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pet Lions-Houses

If you’ve ever seen Pet Lions live, you’ll know that girls throw bras on stage at their shows not once, but twice throughout sets. Granted, this happened recently at their Lincoln Hall LP release show, and the crowd was all but sold out; people’s emotions were perhaps running on pure sexual adrenaline.

Release Night: "To the Coast" @ Lincoln Hall

Anywho, Pet Lions recently released its first full length album, Houses, last month to a nearly sold out crowd in Chicago, IL--the lads’ hometown (or, well, base camp, if you know what I mean). Anyone familiar with Pet Lions has been anxiously awaiting an album since their poppy gem of an EP, Soft Right, was released independently several years ago.

The new album shows undeniable maturity and deliberate growth on Pet Lions’ part. No worries though: there are certain remnants of those catchy choruses, and the concisely infectious melodies we remember from “Girls of Athens” and “Roman History.”

Houses is darker, more musically sound, and at moments--hardly sounds like the same band. The opening track, “The English Room”--a title I still can’t figure out-- is easily one of my favorites, with the lyrics and melody following the guitar riff almost exactly-something I’ve always found to be challenging and intriguing at the same time. Enter pounding percussion, haunting harmonies, and hard-to-forget chorus, and you’ve got a clutch opening track: keeping the best parts of their first EP, and adding elements and layers of depth to the songs.

The album was recorded in a short period of time with Neil Strauch, who has also worked with everyone from Margot & The Nuclear So & Sos to Iron & Wine. The guys were clearly working with well-crafted songs and a talented producer as they’ve managed to create an album that flows seamlessly from song to song whilst still maintaining an intense originality for each individual track.

“When I Grow Old” highlights the punchy pop of Soft Right while showing the group’s ease into the licensing world: Not only can you sing along with every bit of this song, but you can also imagine how it fits easily into the scene of a popular television show (as it already has, on the CW’s Vampire Diaries): These tracks cling to a sort of subtle infection that differs from the first EP---where you didn’t even realize you had the melody in your head, but it’s been lingering there for weeks.

The songwriting on Houses is intricate and detailed, with lyrics reflecting the wanderlust and energy of the invincible twenty-something. Some of the songs have sneaky anthem-esque choruses (“Slow Wave,”) with others familiar stories about bar fights and big city livin’--split into the epic 2-part song (“ Theives “); Others sound like a mix among the I Dream of Jeanie theme song,trippy acid-rock guitar riffs, and a pseudo-drunk The Cure chorus (“Sleeping”).

No matter what way you look at it, there’s a musical diversity on this album that works: you can get your 80s synth, your bubble gum infectious catchy pop dream chorus, your slurry-lyric droning harmonies, your sharp, punching guitar riffs, and the pounding percussion and bass lines that make it hard to sit still. (Which is probably why girls are always throwing bras on stage). Like any album, some songs are better than others (with my preference leaning towards the beginning of the record), and there’s certainly room for growth. Fans of the the Soft Right EP may take a bit to come around to Houses, but I think after several listens, people will like what they’re getting. I imagine Pet Lions will land somewhere safely in between this release and their last, finding a middle ground that packs in everything they do well.

Stream the full album here


cca1cf44-a3fc-11e0-8911-000bcdcb2996 said...

I threw my man bra up there once!

rick_esco said...

I threw my Manzier up there once, Karl quickly kicked it back at me....


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