Review Summary: Taking the scenic route.
As Fightstar temporarily take their feet off the effects pedal, Charlie Simpson changes gear and strays from the beaten track; visited are the crunching guitars and apocalyptic visions of 2009's Be Human
, only to be replaced by another indelible aura, this time a mellow ambience guided by sorrow and loss. There are indeed a few hints of Bon Iver in these five gorgeous and largely understated tunes, but there are yet more tinges of something truly exciting in the blend of genres and techniques which comes together best on the title track: that instinctive ability to dress a pop song up in perfectly-fitting clothes from a different clique. But where with Fightstar it is a shift towards aggression, here, solo, it is a beautiful folksy vibe, gently recalling Iron & Wine.
It may be just seventeen minutes from top to bottom, but When We Were Lions
underlines the musical mentality behind Simpson's departure from the pop band he went to school for. Subtle fragments of The National and other organic indie acts lie in the strolling rhythms of cover 'Bullet' and 'When We Were Lions,' serving as proof that the decision to leave behind those boyband roots was rooted in a more general ambition; its length and the element of surprise prevent this EP from being a full realisation of this venture, but with the prospect of a full-length, who'd write Simpson off? For now, we have this remarkable release to tide us over.