The Doleful Lions, Motel Swim

by PopMatters Staff


The Doleful Lions have seemingly come out of nowhere to record one of the best debut albums of the year. Produced by jangle-pop pioneer Mitch Easter, the Doleful Lions play a form of joyful noise that recalls the spirit of early rock and roll and incorporates influences from some of the best bands since. The standout track by far is “The Sound of Cologne,” a clever and buoyant tribute to the band’s musical favorites, from Krautrock to pure pop. You have to love a song that has the line, “and when Neu! makes it noise, they sound just like the Beach Boys.” Let me put it this way, but the third time I listened to the song, I was singing along word for word. Now there’s one of the true measures of a great song.

Elsewhere, the band has clearly soaked up the acoustic strumming of Automatic For The People-era R.E.M. (“Motel Swim”), as well as Murmur-era R.E.M meets British Invasion (“A Viper In Hiding”). “One Revolution (Around The World)” features a bright, infectious chorus and hooks on par with the best of the dB’s and earlier bands like the Searchers.

Often incorrectly tagged as a power pop band, The Doleful Lions display strong, balanced songwriting that places as much emphasis on lyrics as melody. I don’t know if all of this is going to make the band a big name or not. Quite unjustly, few jangle pop bands have broken into the mainstream—it took R.E.M. a good 6 years to get there and great bands like The Connells, Game Theory, and the dB’s never really did, but here’s hoping the Doleful Lions do.

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