Sound — 9
Evolution is always a funny thing. For some it is forced like a brick of playdough through the eye of a needle, but for the USA's As Tall As Lions it seems to flow through their blood like ape through man. The band's said they have to go through quite a strenuous process to make their records but their sound has, for three albums, truly sounded like it has grown out of the ground and sprouted just in time to make it into the recording studio. Organic' is the word, but there are all sorts of others that could be used to describe You Can't Take It With You'. In hindsight, it's perfectly clear that their sophomore self-titled album served as a stepping stone between the wide-eyed and rock-oriented debut Lafcadio' and this, the output of a band who have grown up and have a sound to prove it. Perhaps more than ever this band are led by their rich vocal arrangements, but this time, in an arrangement that is quite unusual for an indie act, the rhythm section replaces the guitar as the sonic right-hand man. The low frequencies are very well tended by Julio Tavarez who explores his fretboard freely but leaves a trail of string as he goes so as to remain aware of where drummer Clifford Sarcona places the groove. The songs have been lovingly crafted and chiselled to perfection with all sorts of other instruments and samples. Obviously the remaining official instruments' in the band (guitars and piano) appear most frequently but it's interesting to note that a lot of the time they are blobs of paint where the bass and drums are the canvas and the vocals a paintbrush; insignificant when isolated but when all the elements converge beautiful textures are made.
Lyrics — 8
In a similar way to the music As Tall As Lions' lyrics have matured with time. The oddly melodramatic, almost childish lyrics found on older songs like Break Blossom' wouldn't work with the suave, R&B influenced music here, but luckily things have moved along nicely in sync. It's strange how understated the timbre of Daniel Nigro's voice has become whilst he still remains very much the focal point of the band, but this helps his messages in many ways. Ironically enough, considering the artwork (which in itself brilliantly sums up the albums themes), nothing at all is force-fed and you could listen to the album a hundred times before anything became clear but the depth is there for all to see, should anyone wish to find it.
Overall Impression — 9
You Can't Take It With You' is easily the most consistent release from this band yet; from start to finish it delivers just the right kind of song at the right time and goes with the ebb and flow of things. It doesn't have the immediacy of Lafcadio', nor the spacey atmosphere of their self-titled, but it has an unidentifiable x-factor that makes its 50 minute length feel more like 10, inviting you back after each listen. Standout tracks include the faintly sleazy charisma of We's Been Waitin'', the detailed yet to-the-point pulsing of the title track and most importantly of all, the chillingly beautiful Duermete' which summarises everything that is great about this album. Progressing for the sake of progression isn't something that As Tall As Lions concern themselves with, and neither is the haphazard conjecture of styles. However, in a seemingly effortless manner, their natural experimentation has put together a believable combination of indie, progressive rock, post-rock, soul and blues, which unsurprisingly is a musical development and a definite improvement on where they've come from. Highly recommended.