Therefore I Am
02. The Undertow
03. Stable As Stone
04. White Flag
05. The Right Steps
06. Carry On
07. Losing Balance
10. Letting Go
11. Our Colors
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The members of Lions Lions certainly have plenty of experience, already having released one album and a couple of EPs together and then having individually been a part of Vanna, Therefore I Am, The Jonah Veil, and A Loss for Words. Their full length debut in 2009, From What We Believe, gave us an inkling of what the band was capable of, but seemed unpolished and a bit rough around the edges. The pacing didn’t feel quite right. The vocals were a bit overproduced. There were some subpar tracks. But you also had some stellar songs, catchy choruses, and the building blocks needed for a breakout album.
Three years later they've offered up To Carve Our Names, but they have yet to fully rectify the issues from their debut and have actually introduced a few more elements that are holding the band back. It's clear that they are striving to fit into the current post-hardcore landscape, yet somehow want to stand out from everyone else. What they don't realize is that to stand out they need to eschew the conventions of the genre that they end up so heavily relying upon. Their Beloved-lite mixed with Saosin approach is still the bedrock that every song is built upon, but what they build on top of it isn't always making use of the best materials.
There don't appear to be any real systemic problems with the album (other than being slightly bland overall). Lions Lions know how to create a solid post-hardcore song that is competent and well put together. However, at times they try to put some flourishes into their songs that simply don't work. There's the occasional metalcore breakdown tossed into a song, along with some harsh vocals, seemingly only to attempt to show they can be heavy. It doesn't suit them all that well, but isn't as horrible as some straight-up metalcore bands. Then there's the slight pushing of the clean vocals into higher ranges, which comes off as unnecessarily forced and somewhat uncomfortable. There's no reason to go there. And the acoustic track? I know they've done acoustic numbers before, but it just doesn't fit. At least it's at the end of the album so you can skip it.
With all that being said, there is still that glimmer of promise shining through most of the songs, which might make the frustrating moments seem all that more frustrating. Lions Lions seem capable of much more than what they've created thus far. I'm hesitant to say that they'll reach their potential in the future as they seem to be floating a bit aimlessly at the moment, but I'll try to be optimistic and believe they'll get things clicking the next time around.