The Lions – Iconoclastic: Motion Picture Soundtrack / Pub Songs & Sing Alongs! (2011)

Iconoclastic is an ambitious double release from Canadian band The Lions. In two parts, Motion Picture Soundtrack and Pub Songs & Sings Alongs! The Lions endeavour to take you on a journey of textures, emotions, choruses but most of all just some downright excellent music.

Starting with Motion Picture Soundtrack each of the songs is intended to be the soundtrack an imaginary film, and at first I didn’t quite get it. Whilst the music wasn’t unlistenable it just didn’t do anything for me, then suddenly without warning, it all made sense.

I started to be able to see the characters from the songs in my mind’s eye, and the mood of the songs started to provide shapes and images of the story which was taking place. The album has got under my skin with its soundscape audio and strong vocal.

The first few tracks on the album are a little slower and seem to be setting up the landscape for what is to come. These first songs certainly shouldn’t be discounted as the musicianship in particular on “A Little Reminder…” is worth the price of a ticket to this movie.

A few tracks in “This Dog Can’t Be Beat” kicks in and in truth is a particular favourite at the moment. Changing-tempo midway through and sounding very much like a song Oasis would have been proud of in their latter years. “Syd…Is A Serial Killer” is up next and is similar in terms of a being a balls-out rocker which sounds great. These two tracks are quickly followed up by the equally excellent “No Reply” with an infectious little guitar lick underlining the chorus.

Motion Picture Soundtrack ends with the trilogy of “The Social Commentator Acts I – III” which is a perfect ending to an album which on its own would more than cement its position as a top-drawer release. However as mentioned at the top, this is a double-album and the second half is a bit of a different beast.

Pub Songs & Sing Alongs! just lives up to its name throughout. The songs are non-stop catchy and taking up the mantle of short punchy songs where Motion Picture Soundtrack hinted at during. As soon as “Jane (I’ve Had To Much To Drink)” starts you are reminded of The Beatles, Liverpool’s Cast, and few other bands of that ilk. The songwriting here is the much more conventional three-minute, catchy song and compared to Motion Picture Soundtrack you’d be forgiven for thinking it is a different band.

“Anything Can Happen” is a great little number and should certainly be considered for future a single release. Although admittedly I don’t see the point of the “Anything Can Happen (Reprise)” which follows immediately after. In short all that happens is the song fades out and then fades back up where it left off. The dip in sound is actually more annoying than anything else. If the reprise was at the very end then, in the true meaning of reprise that would perhaps have been better.

Personally, I prefer the more theatrical, arty feel of the first ‘disc’, and it is the stronger of the two. Pub Songs… is a good album, but it’s nowhere near as good as its sibling. It should be said though that listening to both halves straight through you are left feeling as I’ve you have indeed just been to pub and enjoyed a few drinks with your mates after being to see a black and white art-house movie. If that is the intention of the band, it works and is rewarding and worth investigating for sure.

One thing to note is that although this is a double-album, it totals around 50 minutes in length, so in reality it’s two distinct halves and themes across one usual album length. This works very much to its advantage as there is no filer for the sake of filling (think Use Your Illusions).

Iconoclastic has some excellent songs on it, some more instant than others, but all very much worth investing the time with. The album has proven itself to be a grower and if you like your music guitar-based and more towards the Indie Rock end (read The Verve, Oasis, and even The Doors) of the spectrum then you really deserve to give this a listen.

You can watch the trailer for the album soundtracked with the excellent “Syd…Is A Serial Killer!” below.

Gareth Fraser
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