Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Album Review: Ahead Of The Lions

Missouri-bred, LA-based Living Things might seem like unlikely upholders of rock's anti-establishment heritage, copping riffs, as they do, from the causeless rebels like The Vines and Jet, but their debut album makes it clear there's more than enough substance to go along with their undoubted style.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the involvement of Steve Albini, Ahead Of The Lions is an unabashed hard rock album - sounding like The Strokes might if they'd been brought up on AC/DC instead of Television and Blondie, but as hard as the guitars are, they almost pale to the band's political rhetoric (the band were recently banned from LA's Viper Room because of their on-stage political rantings). Right from the off, both Bombs Below and I Owe prove Living Things' non-conformist credentials, with singer Lillian Berlin's sarcastic, government-baiting lyrics falling somewhere between Iggy Pop's feral shriek and Rage Against The Machine's Zack de la Rocha's muscular yell. Later, March In Daylight mixes elements of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's garage psychedelia and Guns N' Roses' LA rock blitz, while forthcoming single Bom Bom Bom is pure Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones.

Living Things' political soap-boxing may be laid on a little thick at times - especially when entwined with religious imagery like on No New Jesus and God Made Hate - but this is a brutally passionate and punishing yet accessible hard rock record (though Albini's production is almost uncharacteristically slick). After all, with the current proliferation of laissez faire rockers, it's nice to hear a band that care.

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