After the implosion of excellent Rise To Remain, three fifths of its members have returned in the form of As Lions with their debut record ‘Selfish Age’ – a far more accessible outfit than their previous incarnation.
What can be said most positively about this record is Austin Dickinson’s vocal ability. A confident performer with a strong range, Dickinson succeeds in delivering his vocals in a convincing fashion.
On its own, the album’s opener and title track is about as innocuous and inoffensive as it gets. Yes, there’s a big catchy hook that you know the words to come the second chorus, but with such a bland instrumental, let five minutes pass and it’s gone again.
As an isolated incident this wouldn’t be much an issue, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the entire album suffers from the same issue. Only two of the eleven songs on ‘Selfish Age’ venture outside the 3.5-4 minute mark, with each song peddling the same plodding, mid-paced pop rock as its predecessor.
This album is not only lacking in its songwriting, but also in its instrumentation and production. While sonically speaking ‘Selfish Age’ is crystal clear, it also feels incredibly neutered, leaving some already uninspired performances bereft of kind of bite or emotion.
Despite all this, ‘Selfish Age’’s most glaring issue is its lyrical content. Devoid of any original ideas, it is possible to pick any track and be swamped by generic platitudes, leaving each song feeling like it could be about everything and nothing all at once. Such nitpicking may seem unnecessary, but with so little else to hang one’s hat on, it’s difficult to focus on anything else.
A record so glossed up and sanded down for radio it is ironically hard to imagine anyone getting particularly invested in it, As Lions clearly have the means but none of the songs to dominate the airwaves on ‘Selfish Age’.
‘Selfish Age’ by As Lions is out now on Better Noise Records.
Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)