archiv: the doleful lions

archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2001/2 …….

(Parasol Records)

Ever had that feeling of something innately protective: a smell, a sensation, a sense of déjà vu that momentarily transports and connects you to a memory long forgotten, like the taste of your first kiss, the smell of the fresh summers day. The memory forever recorded, remembered and stored in the brains massive storage vaults of life’s experiences, occasionally the seals are broken for a brief fleeting second to let in the light and the reminiscences. Doleful Lions connect in the same way. The sound is softly constructed, like a precious masterpiece its strokes are tortured but lovingly arranged to recall endlessly lazy summer days as a child spent idly watching the world pass by without a care in the world to call your own.

I first happened upon the Doleful Lions when I was given a copy of their third album to review. At the same time an equally enchanting debut album by the Summer Hymns was amongst the same pile. Both releases knocked me flying off my listening perch, both hitting a similar tone that bands exalted for their ability to lead the pack in terms of musical development and creative foresight seemed to be missing. Both bands were out on their own creating something uniquely timeless and fragile in terms of beauty and quality.

There’s a willowy edge to Doleful Lions fourth longplayer ‘Out like a Lamb’. It’s trapped or more so suspended in some sort of outer worldly nether region, the same place that acts as refuse to all the mythical heraldry that folklore has bequeathed us, separated from reality and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Comparisons run amok, tracks like ‘Tanah Lot’ reveal the same kind of ethereal and spectral intonation as afforded by Damon and Naomi’s collaboration with Ghost a year or two ago. To call ‘Out like a lamb’ enchanted would be to underplay it’s invested classicism within. Deliciously elegiac, every thing about the album suggests something magical at work throughout.

Now paired down to a three piece, what makes Doleful Lions so invigorating and interesting is that within their lo-fi incidence they manage to create a fulsome canvas. Cleverly utilised acoustic guitars and the merest of symphonic arrangements are metered to perfection aside dreamy spiritual like harmonies that cut finely between the Beach Boys and the Carpenters. A myriad of experiences are neatly grafted together, biblical references sit comfortably beside tales of faraway enchanted realms, pure pop skirts and dallies seductively with daintily produced lullabies, edged with country tinges and subtle psychedelia.

Tracks such as ‘1723’ are so far out of step that you have to admire their audacity, ‘Out like a lamb’ the title track carries you uncontrollably in the momentum of its own clamour reaching its histrionic peak before hatching into something of ethereal grace. ‘I can take you to the stars’ breaks the flowing tide of the album if only for the fact that it comes closest to being a rocker. It’s psyche exterior coming across like something you’d swear the Chocolate Watch Band had conceived in a hazy acid riddled night on the tiles with the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. ‘Sunshine Spartacus’ is pure 50’s bubblegum pop, while the gorgeously heartbreaking threads of ‘Surfside Motel’ namechecks the Beach Boys

The Doleful Lions have gotten away for too long hiding their light beneath a bushel, its time the world joined the rest of us in admiration. An album to lose yourself transfixed in awe at its overwhelming elegance.

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