[english translation of: Living With Lions – Island, LP: an was anderes gebunden]
In America they say „Three time’s a charm!“. The same is true for Canada, where the band Living With Lions was founded in 2007. By now, this is already two EPs and three albums ago, which is remarkable, if you are aware of the history of the North American pop-punk musicians. Their recent LP Island (September 2018), is not just the third full-length record, but the third production with a new frontman. After Matt Postal, whose voice can be heard on Dude Manor and Make Your Mark (2008), and a prominent substitute by Stuart Ross (former guitarist with Misery Signals, currently in Comeback Kid), who sang on Holy Shit (2011), Chase Brenneman is now standing behind the microphone stand, who has been filling one of the guitarist posts since the very beginning and additonally will continue to do so. On Island, he celebrated his debut as a singer, although he had to cope during the recording in the studio with a significant handicap (a rupture).
Hats off to this performance, but somehow it should not surprise one, because Living With Lions have always been different than other pop-punk bands. Not only in terms of their attitude and cohesion (the first EP Dude Manor was named after their past living community), but also the sound. The rawness is what it’s all about. Listening to a Living With Lions song, one does not think of high school graduation parties, reversed snapbacks and batik tank tops, but drinking beer in the rehearsal room, honest but poorly paid jobs and guys in their early thirties who take all the chaos of the daily routine and put it in their music. And Brennemans voice fits once again great in the overall picture, as it was already the case with the even rougher predecessors Postal and Ross, neither too smooth nor too pretty.
Overall, Island sounds milder and more adult. A development that was foreseeable. The party crasher image had left relatively clear after Make Your Mark. Holy Shit then sounded more serious with Ross, though the music video to „Honesty, Honestly“ and the resonating commotion about the cover’s bible design were indeed funny. In the end, Island has the right mix, which is more complex than their older stuff. Songs like „Second Narrows“, „Tidal Waves“ and „On A Rope“ thrive on the familiar punk beats and sing-along moments that stick in one´s head without being intrusive. But actually you could name all other songs in this breath as well, except for the okay featured Interlude and the pleasantly mellow „Night Habits“. Instrumentally it does not lack memorable melodies and neat riffs. Only as a fan of the band you get some dark Blink-182 premonitions now and then, because it would be a pity, if their sound in the future would approach the powerpop vibes any further. In addition, the lyrics are not exactly what they used to be. Although they are not bad and well implemented, every song kind of seems to be about the same pain of parting. Contentwise better lines originated in the past.
„It’s not the pushback, it’s the pull
From another ordinary summer
I think I finally had enough of this controversy“
– Another Ordinary Summer
At the end of the day, Living With Lions offer with Island a pop-punk that is across-the-board above average, one that you absolutely want to experience at a live show and that qualitatively follows their previous work.
© featured image: Living With Lions, bandcamp