Review Summary: "tfw ur excited to see the Good Tiger at the zoo but when u get there it's asleep” - Jack
I liked Good Tiger because they were fun
. Short and sweet, with a playful edge, A Head Full of Moonlight
charmed me with hook-filled pieces; it threw down riffs with a relish that complemented its flamboyant vocal stylings. Look no further than “Aspirations” and its breathy warbling, Elliot raising a hurricane as his croon grows in force. Good Tiger were never too serious on A Head Full of Moonlight
- surely the exaggerated growls on “Snake Oil” weren’t done out of a desire to be intimidating. And I doubt a line such as “please don’t kill me yet, cause I think that you’re still wet” really goes for poetic effect. I’m not complaining, though. I think the silliness and sass was what made that record more than a loose bundle of verse-chorus riffing.
We Will All Be Gone
doesn’t give up on hooks. You’ll find them in each song. Elliot is still bellowing in his piercing tenor. The low-end is still punchy, the drumming is still vigorous. On the freshest side of things, we have “Cherry Lemon”, a nimbly maneuvered instrumental piece with shoegazey reverb. There’s also the muted acoustic ballad of “I’ll Finish This Book Later”, which sports a pretty decent imitation of 2000s indie rock in its quieter moments. “Salt of the Earth” even has some southern rock swagger.
I should mention that We Will All Be Gone
is also more serious. Good Tiger have put on their big boy pants and amped up the existential crises. Each of the three singles puts out variations on a survival theme - (metaphorical) drowning and (metaphorical) choking. Meanwhile, an abundance of minor keys cast their sombre cloud. We’re treated to shallow electronic baths (“Blueshift”) and the occasional pretty parts, which end up as lighter plucking or attempts to make a gap in the cloud. “Grip Shoes” has a higher concentration of harmonious parts; “Float On” goes the opposite direction in chugging harder.
I said that We Will All Be Gone
had hooks, but they took me some effort to distinguish from each other. I had to squint my eyes at the homogeneous mass that was formed by Good Tiger’s misled attempts at maturity. I get it, the album’s supposed to be darker. That doesn’t excuse songs from sharing the exact same amounts of aggression and newfound angst. Just because “Float On” is 10% heavier doesn’t mean that it portrays something different from “The Devil Thinks I’m Sinking”, which unfortunately has a very similar shouty chorus. Elliot’s vocal performance has been neutered - not his technique, but in the number of emotions he is allowed to express. To add insult to injury, “I’ll Finish This Book Later” tries to pull off cathartic relief and comes off as entirely hollow. I can’t buy an effort to release emotion when little emotional payoff has been built up.
I’m going to admit: I miss Good Tiger’s tangents, their wanderings during the fills. I miss Elliot breaking out harsh vocals, I miss the pared-back sincerity of “Understanding Silence” that “I’ll Finish This Book Later” failed to capture.
But the silver lining is that most tracks here will still survive alone. It’s a case of “united we fall, divided we stand”; after all, I think most can enjoy an explosive chorus, a run of elegant chords, a consistent groove. It just so happens that on this record, the word coherence means nothing more than an aversion to deviating from the formula. Taken in small doses, it’s still a working formula; there’s just little to be gained from playing one track after another.
I might even forgive Good Tiger’s clumsy attempt to inject seriousness into their music; there’s nothing lacking in Good Tiger’s technical abilities. On paper, the band are perfectly intact - a solid rhythmic backbone, guitars and bass providing taut muscle, Elliot’s vocals adding a layer of elastic skin.
At least this tiger is stuffed by a competent taxidermist.