I rarely listen to music that isn't at least fifteen minutes long per song or lacks internal movement titles, so when I received Lionize's Superczar and the Vulture, understand I was stepping pretty far outside of my normal purview--I was pretty much giving this album a chance based on the incredibly intriguing title alone. Much to my surprise, I wound up greatly enjoying it.
Lionize play this particular variety of loose and free-form alternative rock that makes them sound like a Phish-esque jam band sans the jams. Between that and the very overt reggae and ska influences, it all adds up to one album that's incredibly laid-back and smooth. It's like lounging with your feet up with a martini in one hand, a pulp novel in the other, and a masseuse rubbing your bare feet.
And it's not just the kicked-back aesthetic that makes this album so casual; you can tell from the lyrics and the song titles that the band is just here to have a good time, and they want you to join in on it, too. If “Walking Away (From Explosions Unscathed)” or “Shameless Self Promoter” don't tip you off to how silly this band can be, then there's no helping you. Granted, they can cross over into somewhat lazy songwriting territory on occasion (“Machu Piccu” stands out for having some pretty bad lyrical choices), but in general these moments are few and far between.
Keep in mind, when I said that they lacked the jams, I didn't mean to imply that there wasn't any fantastic soloing to be found. Far from it; there are plenty of juicy solos to go around, as can be heard during the guitar shreds on “Dr. Livingston”, the moderately extended soloing on “Trustafarian”, and the ridiculous drum solo that leads into “Vessel”. That's all not to mention the incredible brass duel on “Superczar”, which, while very short, nonetheless blew me out of my seat, as well as the instrumental “Self Propelled Experience Approximator”, which is brimming with bright flair and flash.
Though, admittedly, the music isn't particularly new in any way, it has enough meat to it that a lot of that can be forgiven. It's still an incredibly solid album, and what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for with sheer suaveness. If you're looking for some chill, slightly jammy rock, then Lionize have got you covered. Superczar and the Vulture, while not my usual fare, nonetheless left me satisfied with its saucy grooves, not to mention being incredibly fun all along the way. This is definitely a worthwhile album.
7.0 / 10
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