As artists explore their sound, it’s important to note every step they take there. Though Pedro The Lion is already blending loud rock with more ambient and psychedelic tones, it’s the scatterbrained approach to his music right now that feels a little harder to follow.
Before the rush of aggressive garage distortion, the album starts with more ominous instrumental weight on “Sunrise.” Though it feels a little sour to lose this kind of majesty going into “Yellow Bike” there’s such a warmth and size to the production that it just colours its sound differently. With this huge dynamic range a sense of true hope, the song feels utterly inspiring and raw. Even when Pedro The Lion stumbles through more generic rock territory on songs like “Clean Up,” the pop and sense of confidence sells it all. Unfortunately there’s a more samey feeling as the album hits “Powerful Taboo” and though it has some truly moving licks to deliver, they just can’t save the track.
While Pedro The Lion ends up rehashing indie rock concepts that are already years old with songs like “Model Homes,” there’s something much more powerful when he takes introspective turns. This starts to shine again on the moody meditation of “Piano Bench” as it blends strange synth and guitar tones in an otherworldly haze of a track. Even the more glowing tones of “Circle K” work well because of how disparate they come off, and the sense of tension to the song is really visceral as well. This flows well into “Quietest Friend” as all the humming of feedback releases out in a constant cascade of noise and emotional honesty, that while potentially tiring on its own, is explosive in its place on the record.
Each side of this sound is reflected on “Tracing The Grid” and Pedro The Lion is able to make the overall shape of his music feel more defined. Despite a more predictable writing scheme here, there’s so many intense moments that play to the sonic palette he brings that it really works. While “Black Canyon” itself starts off as a glorified folk song, each pang of feedback starts to grow the song into something more ferocious.
“My Phoenix” is the most gritty track of the whole album, as Pedro The Lion breaks into a heavy kick of shrieking fuzz to let his frustrations out. While you may recognize parts of this song all too well, you’ve likely never heard them put quite so ferociously. We’re even treated to one last spacey moment on “All Seeing Eye” as Pedro The Lion crafts his most ambitious song in the closing notes of the record. Unfortunately, after all this, the boom in each chorus of “Leaving The Valley” just come off as anti-climactic next to its draining length and delivery.
Words by Owen Maxwell