Review Summary: Have you ever had your heart broken? This is the album for you.
Never had your heart broken? This is the album for you.
Do you remember your first girlfriend? You both were so in love with each other. You promised each other you would be together forever, someday you would get married and live a beautiful life. Oh the joys of that first true love. But then remember that one day, when all of your uncontrollable love 'strangled' her and she said, "This just isn't going to work anymore". As Tall As Lions remembers exactly what comes after those fateful words that were spoken. The self-loathing, the sitting in bed alone wondering if that love could ever happen again, wondering if you can ever open yourself up again, wondering if you can ever get over her. As Tall As Lions explores these all too common emotions that anyone who has ever loved has felt on their self titled album.
Opening on a high note, "Stab City" prepares you for the emotion filled ride to come. With an upbeat tempo and vocalists' Dan Nigro's soaring voice, "Stab City" is an excellent way to open the album. Backing vocals are added in by the rest of the band, repeating the lead chorus line "Don't see, you see!" while Nigro sings on through the verses. This is a common device used by the band throughout the album, and it works very well. Following suit, the next four songs are upbeat and fun. All of the songs have a defined chorus that is easy to remember and sing along with. Songs like "A Break, A Pause" and "Love Love Love (Love Love)" use quite valleys and loud mountains to craft memorable tunes. Standout track "Ghost of York" uses this method very well. A slow buildup of percussion and simple guitar arpeggios segues into a loud chorus, just to drop back to another building verse, returning right back to that familiar chorus you will be screaming out loud.
The second half of the album is slower, but still sticks to the sound of the previous half. "Kickin' Myself" and "Mariah" are beautiful acoustic driven pieces that are exactly what a man would write following a terrible breakup. Other songs such as "Milk and Honey" and "Be Here Now" are similar to the first half of the album, but the band replaces the big choruses with soft piano driven verses and backing vocals repeating key lyrics. Ending the album, "Maybe I'm Just Tired" wraps up the record in a tight package and sends the listener off to look back on what just happened. Largely piano driven, the closer brings together all of the ideas of the previous tracks allowing the listener one final reflection. A slow intro builds into a loud chorus, back into a slow verse. The band sings backing vocals of the lead chorus line "I know I'm not good enough/I know I'm not good enough for you" which would make any man fresh off a breakup weep.
Love is a common theme in music. The lyrics on this record are all based around an awful breakup, something (almost) everyone can relate to. Just as great as the music, lyricist Dan Nigro generates emotion filled lyrics sung beautifully by his soaring voice. All of the songs deal with different stages of the breakup, from the part where you hate yourself; all the way to your heart reopening to other souls. "You're only good when you're on your back you evening virgin cotton nymph" is belted out in "A Break, A Pause", which is later followed by, "I'm sick of waking up alone/Honey I'm pleading/Let's put away the sticks and stones" on "Milk and Honey". The album is chock full of soulful lyrics like this, which only adds to the overall feeling of the album. A memorable album is one that excels in all facets, not just one or two.
As Tall As Lions sophomore self titled album is nothing short of excellent. The album will bring countless plays and will please every time. There is not much bringing this album down from perfection. The production is nothing short of spectacular, bringing each instrument where it needs to be while layers of vocals are tracked masterfully. The only fault this album has is a few too similar songs. A little more experimentation and this would be the perfect record. The instantly likable vocals and the easily accessible music will make this a great album for everyone. Regardless if you have ever suffered a tremendous breakup or not, this is a must have album.