- by Nathan Fidler Rating:9 Release Date:2016-03-04 Label:
When a band claim to be heavily influenced by David Bowie, so soon after his death, it inevitably smacks of an attempt to relate to the moment. While you can see where Lionlimb are coming from in regards to the sound of their debut, Shoo, they owe their sound to a different deceased musician: Elliott Smith.
Having gained their experience as the backing band for Angel Olsen’s weird folk-rock, the duo turn their attentions to their own careers. As previously mentioned, the overriding vibe is that of the Figure 8, or X/O-era Smith - providing the same kind of honky-tonk indie-pop.
It’s startling clear on ‘Domino’ which features sombre but tuneful vocals, it’s a tune you won’t want to leave the discomfort of “Somewhere between meeting her and now you’ve lost all control”. Sustained piano, dried up saxophone and simple but driving percussion are staples of what is a well-crafted debut.
These guys know the sound they’re after and have stuck to it, making it all the more compelling, and while ‘God Knows’, 'Crossroad' and ‘Lemonade’ provide a beautiful glimpse of Elliott Smith’s grace and gravity, you can hear the groove of Bowie in ‘Blame Time’ and his art-pop phase in ‘Ride’. They use these influences as guidance rather than as a crutch however, taking on something new but familiar in places.
The songs seem to deal with longing and reflection on past relationships with a poetic, bitter-sweet style. ‘Turnstile’, one of many standout tracks, claims “Your love was a needle and I stuck it, you love is a guitar and I sold it” with no instrument seemingly off-limits for a touch of wah.
Everything feels like it’s zipping by, bar the stuttering ‘Hung’. ‘Just Because’ feels like you’re travelling at speed, with the lights of houses and cars stretching into the night. There is a distinct feeling of resolve you can take from this music, whether it’s in the potential misery or the poignancy of memory.
It’s early in the year to say this album might top lists, but it’s certainly a solid debut and you might not hear a better album this year (ok, it will certainly be up there, let's put it that way).