Inflated controversy over its new album-art cover temporally aside, Holy Shit by Living With Lions (Adeline Records) is a solid pop, punk-drifting-alternative album. It’s stronger than previous efforts; the sound more mature for the band.
In fact, the music is so much better than the unrelated-thus-pointless album art, it makes the sophomoric publicity stunt a waste. It’s not just a waste for the band. They’ve personally opened the doors for people to throw stones at Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR), even after returning the $13,248 government-subsidized loan it received. And that’s not cool.
Ironically, the music itself doesn’t have anything to do with faith or religion. So if fans can get past the much-ado-about-nothing art, the Vancouver-based band delivers a memorable balance between fullness of sound and roughness of its pop-punk roots.
Standout tracks include “Pieces” and “Regret Song.” Both are straightforward pop-punk break-up tunes, with aggressive lyrics contrasted by a mellow, pained chorus and then contrasted again with upbeat, fierce instrumentals. The third song, “Honestly, Honestly,” is the best on the album and the track promoted as a single. (Start with that one.)
Overall, the album works on every level, even where it just barely works. It does start to feel the same working down all ten tracks, though, but it’s hard to pinpoint the cause. Either Stuart “Stu” Ross lacks vocal diversity or the songs are lyrically weak. Otherwise, the only question to ask is whether Living With Lions wants to be known a pop-punk band or celebrity clowns. So far they seem to have the talent to be great, but not the attitude.