You Can't Take It With You – As Tall As Lions

by Jack Diablo

Label: Triple Crown Records

Release Date:
August 18, 2009
As Tall As Lions aren’t really breaking any new ground with their latest album You Can’t Take It With You, although they’d certainly want you to think otherwise. But what they have done is made a catchy, listenable album that, although not revolutionary by any means, does sound fantastic. After a particularly troublesome recording/production process that nearly tore the band apart, they were able to team up with just the right producer in Noah Shain. It’s the production that really shines through on this album. As Tall As Lions’ brand of (somewhat) indie alternative rock is not the kind of music that is hurt by over-production. In fact, it really enhances it and makes it more dynamic, as heard on ‘Sleepyhead’ as the soundtrack of a hospital plays softly in the background.
But ultimately, it’s the music that tells what the band itself is capable of. Singer Dan Nigro shows his impressive vocal range which sits somewhere between Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold and tour-mate Gavin Hayes of Dredg. But lyrically, the record contains nothing particularly inspiring. When Nigro sings “Can’t you see it’s better to die on your feet than live down on your knees?” during the chorus to ‘In Case of Rapture,’ he hasn’t stumbled upon some illuminating insight into the human condition, but the line stays with you (I’ve found myself humming it several times over the past few days). In other words, it sounds really good, even if the substance is lacking.
One thing is for sure, this band has options for the future. There is a confluence of styles that blend to form something that seems almost generic, but not necessarily in a bad way. ‘Sixes & Sevens’ has the feel of a toned-down Mars Volta (a band that could benefit from toning down every once and a while) both vocally and rhythmically. The choir-style singing in the verses adds a nice delicate touch. ‘Duemerte’ is a soft, ambient tune replete with a muted horn intro and jazz brush drumming immediately followed by the faster-paced ‘In Case Of Rapture.’
But again, everything on this album just sounds so crisp and full. The mixing is absolute perfection from the highest vocal notes to the lowest bass chords. If only the music dug a little deeper, this album could be a real contender.