For years Lionize had carved themselves a nice little niche. A small but dedicated fanbase that lapped up their unique brand of Clutch-style boogie rock combined with soulful Reggae that led to some cracking records. But times change, and with new album Jetpack Soundtrack (Weathermaker Music) the band look to be really trying to breakthrough to a wider audience.
The Maryland rockers are five albums into their career and all the core elements of their sound are still in place, but they’ve tried to push everything up a notch. Produced by Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and Machine (best known for his work with their mighty Blast Tyrant album), which can only help their profile, the music is far slicker than it was before.
Take ‘Breather,’ there’s still plenty of funk, but with more melody, bigger guitars, and the whole thing is just more polished than their previous releases. ‘Evolve’ is more of a hard rocker, with its galloping riffs and synths while lead single ‘Reality Check’ is a well-polished melodic number that sticks in the head for days.
The only bad thing to say about the album is that there a few forgettable ‘Lionize by numbers’ tracks. ‘Electric Reckoning’ and ‘Lazarus Style’ fall under this category. They’re not bad, they’ve still got all the elements of a good song and played with plenty of energy, but leave little impression once they’re gone.
There are still plenty of gems, however. Lionize are seriously good at making feel good music that infects the body and give you the desire to move, and that’s exactly what good rock bands should do. The title track, the southern-fried ‘Replaced By Machines’ and the cowbell-filled ‘Skynet’ are all highlights. And as ever, front man Nate Bergman’s lyrics are a highlight throughout. Micro Machines, Dinosaurs and Friend’s Rachel Green all make an appearance, while ‘Amazing Science Facts’ is full of lyrical gold such as “Did you know Alex Jones grows his own food at home without GMOs, wow what a guy.”
Jetpack Soundtrack is a quality record. Perhaps not as enjoyable as Superzcar and the Vulture or Destruction Manual simply because the songs aren’t quite as memorable, but there’s nothing bad on here. And even if it’s still not an improvement on what’s gone before, Lionize still stand apart in a genre of one.