Likes Lions are an alternative rock quintet from Sheffield, UK. They are not the indie band In Like Lions, nor are they the electro-pop band Live Like Lions. And they are certainly not the hardcore punk band Like Lions from New York. Ever heard of SEO boys?
This Likes Lions formed in 2009, and 'Future Colour' - released in October 2011 - is their debut EP. They take the more accessible aspects of math-rock and post-rock, and fuse them together to produce a heavier, Foals-esque, indie sound. For some reason (perhaps due to the massive success of the aforementioned Foals), I have ended up reviewing a few too many math-indie-rock EPs this year. However, Likes Lions melody-conscious take on the genre made this a somewhat enjoyable experience for me.
'Author, Dreamweaver, Visionary' is a fantastic choice to open the EP - with a captivating 40 seconds of prog-rock synth and guitar noodlings building up momentum to the crashing punk-rock drums and spiky alt-rock riffs that make up the bulk of the track. It's an energetic introduction to the band, with some fine instrumentation, but lacks the vocal hooks of the rest of the EP. 'All on Red' is a mid-paced song, with softer guitar lines and a ballad-like vocal delivery. Although it may sound a little emo for some, it's the first time we are able to hear just how strong Rich Bristow's vocals are - his soulful delivery isn't common place for math-rock singers (who normally like to yelp - sometimes incomprehensibly).
'Welcome to Seaworld' sounds the closest to what Foals produce - with a dancey drumbeat and layers of atmospheric guitar lines overshadowing a simple indie riff. Their most immediate song is 'Futures', which contains a pop-punk sensibility built up around a massive chorus - very, very memorable. Closer 'Badminton' contains the most irregular time-signature, with a math-drum line propelling inventive dual guitar-work and soaring vocal melodies - all backed by some understated violin and cello. Just when you think the song has drawn to a quiet conclusion, up jumps an up-tempo, Biffy Clyro-esque stabbing riff, in unison with stabbing strings. A thrilling end to the EP.
The reason I find Likes Lions so appealing is because they don't try to shove the irregularity of their riffs, beats and structures down your throat - like a lot of alternative math-rock bands (I think it makes them feel progressive). Instead, they use their experimental instrumentation as a unique backdrop to the kinds of pop-rock hooks that can stay with you for the rest of the day. Can't wait to see what they'll come up with next.