“Hey mother, hey hey mother
Why do you cry?
Tell me what the birds have said about my father.
Hey father, hey hey father
What do you know?
Lovers on the carousel won’t ride forever.”
As Tall As Lions, Lafcadio
I re-discovered As Tall As Lions this week, a band I abandoned by the wayside probably about three years ago because it reminded me of times and places I’d rather not occupy my daily memory with, the times and places where I was a person that I was less proud of than the person I am today. But an errant tweet with their name and music in it made me nostalgic for their full and beautiful sound, their poignant and passionate takes and full-out busts. What a treat!I gave both the self-titled and Lafcadio a Spotify whirl.
Ten years ago I couldn’t decide which album I like better and that has not changed! But I think I lean ever-so-slightly more toward Lafcadio, because it has a bit more of an edge to it. While the self-titled has the pure and polished beauty of songs like “Maybe I’m Just Tired,” “Love, Love, Love” and “Milk and Honey,” Lafcadio has the searing pain and unsatisfied longing of “The Carousel,” “A Ghost In Drag” and “Acrobat,” the song that maybe set the stage for their later work.
It has been a long time since I listened to these songs but I have not forgotten them. They have a richness and a depth that I hear in active bands I love like The Hotelier or The Wonder Years, but with a symphonic flair, like Foxing or The World is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. This band has so many incredible songs, well-formed with memorable hooks and bridges. I saw them once live, at Water Street in Rochester, and they were as locked in and harmonic as their recordings suggest. And what about those recordings?! They’re a little on the analog side, but I love love love that, these do not feel overprocessed or overproduced, and you can hear a ton of space and reverberations in the room.
I love the heavy bass lines, the frequent use of silence underneath lead vocals between sections and the ever-occurring busts at the end of the song, where the band just locks in on a melody/theme and plays the shit out of it until a slow, careful resolve. They do this more than once, but it works, and it works well. I nearly cried hearing “Acrobat” again, as I’d forgotten just exactly how magical that build resolve can be.It made me feel so good to hear these songs again, despite the fact Lafcadio is far from a happy record. Rather, it’s about about the dangers and pains of love and attachment, the scary parts of what’s supposed to beautiful, and it delivers this message with a melodic assault.
I wasn’t surprised, when I rediscovered these songs, that they still sounded so full and beautiful. What surprised me most was seeing they had **a whole ‘nother album** that passed me by, that they released in 2009. Somehow I missed this! I haven’t listened to it yet, saving it for a long drive or long run or some other time when I feel like I can really hear it. I hope it’s good. I bet it’s good. Maybe if it was good, though, I would’ve stumbled across it by now? No matter. It won’t erase how good their two most popular records are, records that I will always associate with times and places that, even if I would rather bury them in the past, resonate with the core of who I still am today.
“What if nothing is just that and
suffering’s the only thing we’re good at?
Dreaming, picture that
a whole world in a slumber.
But don’t get
too attatched to the living,
Even every single memory’s
That’s a fact, being torn asunder.
But to my suprise, no reason
why, one day I woke
up and realized.
Give it to me,
Love, love, love, love
I’ll keep you in my focus
with love and affection.”
~Love, Love, Love (Love, Love)
As Tall As Lions, As Tall As Lions