Though there has been a resurgence in the punk-rock and pop-punk scenes over the past few years, Canadian punk-rockers Living with Lions have been sliding under the radar with their brand of melody-driven, yet emotional punk rock despite the release of two solid albums in Dude Manor and Make Your Mark. A few years removed from the latter, the quintet returns with a tweaked lineup and a fine tuned collection of emotional, yet catchy punk that showcases matured songwriting and improved musicianship from start to finish. Holy Shit undoubtedly lives up to its title by cementing Living with Lions’ name in the list of current pop-punk buzzmakers.
It would be tough to call this the genre’s album of the year with so many good bands on the list yet to release their respective masterpieces (i.e. Fireworks, The Swellers and The Wonder Years), but Living with Lions give us plenty to love about everything they’ve tightened and tweaked since their last album. Hopeful melodies are woven through opener “Pieces”, as the band punches through catchy-as-fuck melodies and heartfelt vocals. ‘I’m falling apart from you’ rings from the upbeat, yet crunchy choruses as we get hooked into the guitar-driven assault Holy Shit serves front and center. “Regret Song” keeps the uptempo feel of the album going with solid drumming and carefully placed power-chords, a feel replaced with a slower, yet powerful bridge that is anchored by the slightly gruff vocals and buzzing guitars. “Matthew’s Anthem” gives us a mid-tempo jam with strong backbeats and bright flourishes instrumentally, leading us with powerful vocal lines into a melody-laden chorus. There seems to be a much better balance of these things on tracks such as this than opposed to the band’s earlier work. Maturity is a tough word to swallow with a title like Holy Shit, but these guys have certainly grown up as writers and created a new foundation that they’ll hopefully build on for years to come.
Not everything on this album clocks in at breakneck speeds. Or at least not at first. “In Your Light” gives us a vibrant, slower beginning to brood over until the drum blitz pushes us to the brink in terms of tempo. The back and forth of speeds further accentuates the contrast and proves just how far these guys have come in perfecting their sound. “Maple Drive is Still Alive” also fronts with a wall of guitars before breaking into an unrelenting punk rock number. ‘I told you some day, I thought we would recover’ new LWL vocalist Stuart Ross belts over slow, yet hard-hitting melodies in the chorus. It gets a bit formulaic after awhile, but it doesn’t sound bad at all.
As far as drawbacks, the vocals tend to get a little dull in spots, and that’s just a product of Ross’ chosen form of delivery. In terms of approach, these guys aren’t really re-inventing the genre or anything, they’ve just made it run a little smoother. Still, there is enough energy to keep this album afloat from start to finish that even a little bit of recycling isn’t minded.
Holy Shit could be the understatement of the year when it comes to Living with Lions’ new record. While many people knew they had it in them, it just took a bit of time and a slightly tweaked approach to see Living with Lions should be much more popular than they seem to be prior to this release. Don’t overlook this band.
2. Regret Song
3. In Your Light
4. Honesty, Honestly
5. Whatever You Want
6. Maple Drive is Still Alive
7. Wake Up
8. Matthew's Anthem
9. Rough Around the Edges
10. When We Were Young
A decent apartment is not an easy thing to find when moving to Vancouver, so when the soon to be members of Living with Lions moved in to their first Vancouver house, they never expected it would be so pivotal in the shaping of their next year. Having similar interests in music, beverages and fun, the boys and their house soon became known for their ruckus get-togethers and parties. A popular spot for any east Vancouver youth to let loose and have a good time, a title was soon given to the house so many had become familiar with: Dude Manor. ... read more