“There was so much more we wanted to accomplish as a band” said Living With Lions’ lead vocalist Chase Brenneman after previous singer Stu Ross left in 2012. With such a bold statement, it is a clear indication that Island (No Sleep/Redfield), their first full-length album featuring former guitarist Brenneman on vocals, was meant to be ground-breaking.
Sadly, the result doesn’t match up.
Clichés and typical conventions of the subgenre are thrown at the listener from the get-go: long drawn-out vocals that would make Tom Delonge blush illustrate how wrapped up in the rules of the subgenre the quintet are. In addition, the pacing of the album also leaves much to be desired as rather than following a particular theme, or flow, of a complete body of work, Island feels like thirteen tracks tacked onto each other where not much would be changed if you put most of the album on shuffle. The overall result of this makes the entire release seem messy.
The album-titled, final track, clocks in at thirteen minutes, similar to how Green Day’s ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and ‘Homecoming’ were laid out, split up into several different ditties, showing the band does aspire to spread their wings and break traditions in the scene. While some of the sections were quite refreshing, the long pauses between each one results in the listener wanting the album to be over rather than for the next part of the song to begin.
Pop-Punk, on the whole, has needed a shake-up these past few years as more and more cookie-cutter bands imitating big-hitters like Neck Deep or A Day To Remember have emerged, and, sadly it seems, Living with Lions could be going in a similar direction. All that said, though, behind the clichés there really is a band that could potentially move onto bigger and better things. To reach those targets, Living With Lions must first make themselves work on what makes them truly distinctive, and find ways to stand out amongst the herd.