It’s been nearly three years since Living With Lions’ debut full-length Make Your Mark was released. On that album, Living With Lions displayed a fun pop-punk album that featured poppy upbeat guitars accompanied by heavy, rough vocals, personifying the phrase “rough around the edges.” Three years and a few member changes later, Living With Lions are back with the questionably titled Holy Shit, a title just as ballsy as the album art it is printed on.
Though the band has made a couple of member changes recently, Holy Shit delivers just as much as Make Your Mark. Opener “Pieces” is a catchy song and the first to show off the vocals from new frontman Stu Ross, which evidently are very similar to former vocalist Matt Postal. Following “Pieces” are the more mature “Regret Song” and “In Your Light.” Each of these songs is very indicative of the growth featured on Holy Shit in the form of their slowed choruses and insightful lyrics.
Holy Shit includes an array of different songs, mixed and matched fairly well across the album for a great listening experience. Songs like “Wake Up” and “Whatever You Want” showcase catchy beats and singable choruses while fast and to-the-point songs like “Maple Drive is Still Alive” and “When We Were Young” will get the fans of hastened pop-punk jams up and out of their seats.
First single “Honesty, Honestly” features the catchiest chorus of the album, as Stu’s chants of “Down, down, down, down, down/ I’ll see you when you’re down” resemble the equally catchy “hey yeah!” of Make Your Mark‘s “A Bottle of Charades.” Along with “Honesty, Honestly,” “Rough Around the Edges” comes off as one of the most mature songs the band has ever written. Keeping the maturity train rolling is “Matthew’s Anthem,” a slower-paced anthem that is sure to get kids singing along this summer.
The only complaint to be had on Holy Shit is a lack of energy that was present on Make Your Mark. The guitars don’t seem as full and the hooks aren’t nearly as huge as they were on the band’s debut. This could possibly be because of the new vocal style that the band is using with Ross, or it could just be a change in direction altogether. No matter what the cause is, it is clear that Holy Shit greatly lacks any raw intensity that was featured on their previous effort.
Holy Shit may not have the classic pop-punk chops that its predecessor was packed with, but at the end of the day it is still a good pop-punk album to escape into the masses this summer. So if you feel like getting a little angsty on those dark quiet nights during the summer, go pick up Holy Shit at your local retailer and just enjoy the passion that spews out of Living With Lions’ music, for it is the perfect time of year to be enjoying them.