There is a subtle blend of blues, jazz, ambient, and emo on As Tall As Lions’ second studio album, a self-titled outing produced by Steve Haigler (Fuel, The Pixies) and Mike Watts. It follows the band’s debut release from 2004, Lafcadio, although it does not follow in that album’s footsteps of punk-infused rock movements. Rather, their second effort features songs with lush melodies possessing a dream-like beauty and a timeless breadth.
At times, the sweeping moods flourish into spacious symphonies and scopes of prismatic escapes. At other times, the arrangements are soothingly pastoral, laid back hamlets. Each song creates a world of its own with corridors of imaginary inserts from soaring vocals to inseams of instrument brocades and rhythmic leaps. The album opens with the enchanting vignette “Stab City,” sprucing opulent guitar bales and bluesy hued rhythms along rippling vocals. There are cobbles of Soul and R&B implanted in the alloys like on the track “Love, Love, Love” which harbors lofty vocal harmonies and consonance in the melodic cascades that impact the listener immediately and deeply.
“Ghost Of York” keeps the harmonies in tow with warm breathy vocals sensually brushing across the chord movements. It is immensely cosseted in prodigious atmosphere that cuddles and strokes. The keyboards whittle the bends in the melodic folds on “Be Here Now” and prove to unite beautifully with As Tall As Lions’ rhythmic leaps and harmonious blends. The album concludes with mellifluous brooks of instrument lines flowing together on “Maybe I’m Just Tired.” But the album does not end on the tenth and final listed track. There is a surprise, unlisted eleventh track that appears a minute after “Tired.” It keeps in the same vein of heavenly ascents and pleasing flows of the previous ten tracks and finalizes the album with sweetly pressed melodic composites.
As Tall As Lions’ soaring vocals are the domain of lead singer Daniel Nigro along with harmony vocals supplied by the remaining band members—guitarist and pianist Saen Fitzgerald, bassist Julio Tavarez, and drummer Cliff Sarcona. ATAL’s second release is a genuinely collaborative effort on the part of all the band members and their producers and displays growth in the band’s songwriting. Sometimes growing up can have a positive effect, like it has on As Tall As Lions.