Lions Are Smarter Than I Am – American Idle

The effort that has gone into this review is staggering. It’s not that I’m particularly trying to hone an art or anything, it’s just that I spent the night in a cold tent with two friends who snore. Nonetheless, here I am, ready and willing again. Anyway, let’s crack on.

Local (to me) post-rock trio Lions Are Smarter Than I Am started their thus-far small back catalogue with ‘Pop Idle’, an EP which was both enjoyable and promising, yet bore the unmistakable air of being made by people who had not yet found their feet. They freely dabbled in deliberately wonky time signatures, quiet-loud dynamics and mudslide bass-grinds, but the most successful track on the EP was easily ‘No Plane’. By no coincidence, it was also the track that made them sound the most human. This emotional streak has been zoomed in on and stretched out in this, their second EP. The change is quite dramatic, and, dare I say, spectacular. It’s more direct, yet still decidedly natural. ‘Pop Idle’ sounds planned and stratified. ‘American Idle’ sounds like it just had to come out, drawing board or no drawing board. It has a spontaneous flare, yet it also has direction. In terms of sound, it does indeed sound like the Lions’ most obvious influence, Mogwai, but to say that it’s a carbon copy of that band is just pure cynicism. This band put their own stamp on what they do, and that’s not solely due to the fact that they have no bassist which gives the texture of the sound a more freely flowing feel. Melodically, the band can articulate rousing battle-hymns (‘Galbras’) as well as they can aching grief (‘Kilovictor’) beautifully. In less than a year, this band has refined itself, sharpening every blunt edge while delivering brain-shaking emotional impact which has rarely been heard in instrumental rock for many many years. I try to be fair when I review things; the only reason why I have even heard of this band is because the drummer David Fletcher is in my music technology class (he gave me a promo to review for which I am genuinely touched). Despite this, I carry no bias: ‘American Idle’ is quite simply a fantastic piece of work and you should hear it.

It hasn’t been released yet so it has no cover as of now, so here’s a picture of Dave behind the kit looking serious.
Key track: Readio
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