Review: Pet Lions
November 22, 2009 § Leave a comment
So I came home today with a shiny new Macbook Pro, named Thor. I still haven’t recovered years worth of music, writing and art documentation sitting pretty on the hard drive of my deceased iMac, so I’m sitting here writing for one of the first times without any music playing in the background. Silence is jarring. Luckily, my iPod still works and has most of my music on there (although, I made the grave mistake of never putting my own compositions on there for fear of narcissism) so hopefully this hard drive can be recovered. In the last month or so I’ve been listening to a couple of songs by Pet Lions. Their EP, Soft Right is available for free when you sign up to their mailing list.
The band, hailing from Chicago, sounds at times surprisingly European. I found myself thinking of France’s Phoenix, if not a bit more rock and a little less retro. The songs aren’t brilliant, but they have some decent hooks and are firmly planted in the realm of pop rock coupled with the recent trend towards to dancier drum beats. It is pleasantly unpretentious, but not stupid and conventional–although the songs certainly reference conventions. I would say I hear glimmers of potential mixed in with duller moments. On Myspace Pet Lions’ most heard song is “Roman History”, a tune that is a fast-paced dancey rock romp with some idiosyncratic lyrics to do with a love affair and Roman History class (?) certainly, a more interesting and cute pop song than the standard fare. My favourite off of Soft Right is “Propeller Plane” which is initially a bit slower than “Roman History” but has very catchy and interesting lead guitar lines and some compelling gang vocals, that I could picture being a joy to sing along to live. The other songs on the EP evoked less enthusiastic responses from me, because they had elements of fun, but didn’t quite hit the mark sometimes. Perhaps, in concert they hit their stride, because the songs are mostly upbeat. “Stuck at the Bottom” has a fun bridge with synth jabs and a fun guitar solo breakdown, but the preceding verse and chorus are a little lacklustre, for instance. Vocals on “I Will Track You Down” are simply too overwrought when compared to “Roman History” for me to enjoy the rest of the song and lyrically is the weakest song of the EP. “Girl in Athens” has some smart vocal decisions coupled with a fun tom and snare drum pattern in the verse, culminating into a pseudo-Beach Boys vocal harmony, that I wish would last longer.
All in all I can see the potential for some smart pop rock coming from Pet Lions, which would be a welcomed addition to the current wave of American pop music, that lately seems to have that gap, and I’m interested to see how the band matures musically. Considering it is free, I would definitely recommend anyone checking out Soft Right and deciding for themselves.