Monday, October 10, 2011


Their most idiosyncratic album since 1994's neglected gem, Amorica. Like that album, this record is instantly familiar, recalling many common and forgotten platters from the early '70s, yet twisted through a surprisingly individual voice from the Crowes. And, like that record, this is more about the music and the texture than the songs, which is disconcerting for anybody looking for the knockout songwriting of their first two records, or even "Stop Kicking My Heart Around." And, coming on the heels of that record, which was as tight a rock & roll album as they ever did, the diffuseness of Lions seems a bit off-kilter. Still, there's no denying that the group is stretching out and sounds terrific, and not just because Don Was is behind the boards. The group is supple, laying into jams without seeming indulgent, and rocking like a bastard when the occasion calls for it. It's just too bad that there aren't many songs to remember here. Some could argue that was the case with Amorica as well, but those never felt like excuses to play music, and the tone shifted dramatically from track to track. Here, the songs can seem incomplete, as if they got the sound of the track down, but not the structure. Still, this is a powerful, textured hard rock record that covers a lot of ground, surging from powerful riffs to gospel choruses and funkier-than-expected riffs. There are few bands of their time that could sound so versatile within the confines of hard rock, and if this doesn't really deliver memorable songs, tracks do jell on repeated plays, and the Black Crowes' kaleidoscopic vision of rock's history is reason enough to listen to this record.

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