Published Feb 21, 2018Since its founding in 2015, Bayonet Records has done a great job of signing distinct acts, and Lionlimb is no exception. On their 2016 debut Shoo, Lionlimb's Stewart Bronaugh and Joshua Jaeger brought their unique fusion of jazz, indie and pop to the world, with Bronaugh's breathy vocals acting as the group's trademark. Their latest release, Tape Recorder, expands on the framework laid by their debut, but with a greater focus on atmosphere.
With an average length of almost six minutes, each of the six songs has the temporal freedom to arc and evolve. None of the tracks are tied to a defined mood, and it's rare for there to be a recursive melody. Yet, this sprawling configuration isn't without risk; momentum is at stake each time Lionlimb spontaneously shifts their tonal trajectory, and while they do it successfully on most occasions, there are periodic casualties. The title track is the prime example of the band truly losing the thread; "Tape Recorder" has a disjointed beginning, as an ambling piano and uneasy strings clash with Bronaugh's slow arrhythmic vocals, to be joined later by drums that have a mind of their own. Therein lies the dilemma: innovation requires that you challenge the listener, but to what extent before you alienate them?
Lionlimb should be lauded for their novel approach, and it must be clarified that on pieces like "Clover," "Maria" and "Star Mangled," their adventurous spirit pays off. The whole collection works to move beyond predictable conclusions though, and as a result, each listen holds a new discovery. (Bayonet)