Living With Lions – [Album]

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ah, expletives – they may be the last taboo that kids can call their own because they haven't been co-opted and blanched by grownups just yet. In the right crowd, dirty words can still make adults blush or incite them to disproportionate levels of anger. They're uncouth, regarded as the province of the ill-mannered and under-educated and (because most of the basic ones are single syllable in construct) are the syntactic equivalent to a blunt instrument – no wonder kids love them so much. Even better about curse words, they say a lot; not really about the utterer of them, but about the subject at which they're aimed – they're graphic. Maybe that's why Living With Lions have called their third album Holy Shit; it was the single easiest way to imply a mindset, a disposition, a mission statement and a place in the social hierarchy of the world at large. Few other eight-letter combinations are ever so efficient.

But what could an album title like Holy Shit say about a band called Living With Lions? They're young and tired of being overlooked? Check. They're pissed off and feeling a little insecure about the fact that they're the new kids on the bigger scene? No doubt. Combine those variables with some guitars and what do you get? A punk band? You bet your ass you do, and a pretty fucking good one too.

The shadows of every great troublegum institution from Green Day to Blink 182 burst forth in living, breathing, petulant technicolor from the moment guitarists Chase Brenneman and Landon Matz rip out the first A chord to open “Pieces” and, from there forward, what hits listeners is a wave of contentment as Living With Lions rediscover the joy of punk as it was in the middle of the 1990s: a little poppy, a little subversive, all anthemic and all equal parts 'heartthrob' and 'heartache.' It's rough and sweet at the same time, and instantly loveable too.

That said, any review would be remiss if it didn't point out that each of Holy Shit's ten songs didn't offer a bit of instant gratification to listeners from a couple of demographics. Kids at the right age will identify with the emotionally articulated sentiments of songs like “Regret Song” (choice lyric: “I regret ever knowing you/I regret all those songs I wrote/and I regret never saying any of this to your face”), “Honesty Honestly” (“You get the best of me/So take the rest of me”), “Whatever You Want” (“You get what you want/Whatever you want”) and “Rough Around The Edges” (“It's hard to admit something's wrong/When you're having the time of your life”), and those who are a little older will immediately be reaffirmed that times haven't changed so much in the last fifteen years; the same thoughts and feelings of frustration at being overlooked, but also the satisfaction of having the platform to scream out about it still apply.

Hilariously, the question of “Will it work?” still applies for Living With Lions and Holy Shit just as much as it did for Rancid, Green Day, NOFX and Blink 182 fifteen years ago. Naysayers will proclaim that times have changed, and teenagers with them; the best Living With Lions could hope for is achieving a niche somewhere in the middle ground between 'independent' and 'mainstream' crowds, but that's not true. Themes of alienation, discontent and frustration never fall completely out of focus for teenagers and, even if it was true, think of how huge and well-populated that middle ground is! Living With Lions have the sound, all they need is the chance to break – if they get that, Holy Shit will spread like a virus. If they get onto the bill on Warped Tour with it, they'll own it – and who knows what they'll be capable of from there.



Holy Shit is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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