Album Review: Quiet Lions – No Illusions EP

‘No Illusions’ is the second EP from Quiet Lions, a Brighton based four piece formed from the ashes of Jumping Ships. It’s the follow up to November 2013’s ‘Surroundings’, and as the press release itself states, is more of the same; intricately crafted melodic rock with aspirations of big commercial success.

‘Shallows’, the first of the five new songs showcased here, kicks things off with a bit of a (slightly misplaced?) rant at the wannabes who enjoy five minutes of fame on the back of “talent” shows such as the X-Factor. Musically it is a little stop start, allowing the vocals to dominate, although a soaring guitar lick kicks in along the way to accompany the chorus, after which it starts to rock a little harder. I imagine it to be heavier in the live environment as the guitar sound is a little too clean here for my liking. Even so it’s a catchy song and includes a quiet spell leading into a climactic ending of heartfelt vocals and soaring melodies.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUu30tXGGWw&w=100&h=520]

There’s more social observation on offer on ‘Wolves of the Capital’, the first song off the EP to have a video, and although it is a more straightforward rocker with a driving bass line, it boasts similar lyrical sincerity to ‘Shallows’ and also comes off a little naive. Having said that, Michael Williams knows how to write a hook and I actually woke up with this one spinning round my head the other day.

‘Troubles’ starts out more urgently than the first two tracks and rocks the chorus a little harder also, although the second half includes a number of quieter moments that see the band experiment with a more intimate sound. Lyrically this is a very personal track, tackling the issue of a relative who suffers a breakdown and it makes a pleasant change to hear a melodic rock band actually sing about something meaningful, rather than just stringing together a bunch of generic platitudes that occupy a non-place.

‘Honesty Breathes’ has a fairly poppy lead in with a bassy riff, though swathes of guitar eventually take over; providing shades of light and dark, coupled with the characteristic time changes that seem to be a signature feature of the band as they crop up again on closing track, ‘The Hive’. Once more there are some heavier moments, some quieter moments, some soaring guitar licks, an a cappella moment, a beseeching vocal and a bit of introspection. It is never actually predictable but they do seem intent on fitting as many of their tricks as they can into each and every track. I have no doubt that this all translates well to the live stage, and besides, an EP should showcase a band’s talents, so I guess they achieve what they set out to do.

So, all told, ‘No Illusions’ is more solid work from Quiet Lions and has some nice hooks and heartfelt lyrics that will speak deeply to a number of people. With the obvious talent on display here, in a fair and just world a record deal will come their way, because while their DIY attitude and artistic integrity are extremely admirable, they are somewhat indicative of the failings of the modern music industry. Taking 19 months to produce five new songs, which despite being technically praiseworthy and undoubtedly interesting, fail to demonstrate much meaningful progress since their previous EP is quite simply not going to catapult them into the big time. What they really need is a record company with a strong A&R department to get behind them and help them get the most out of their talent so they can start putting their swirling soundscapes to work on festival stages rather than in the backrooms of pubs.

3/5

’No Illusions’ EP by Quiet Lions is out now.

Quiet Lions links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)

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