Doleful Lions came out of nowhere last year with one of the finest debut albums of the year. The North Carolina band was as much a surprise for their mix of influences as much as their relative obscurity—classic jangle pop ala the dB’s infused with a most-unlikely spot of Krautrock. Hell, “The Sound of Cologne” off Motel Swim sang the praises of Neu! and the Beach Boys. You’ve gotta love a band with such impeccable influences and such an eclectic spirit.
The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! is the follow-up to that great debut. While the sound is a bit heavier and fuller and the subject matter both more serious and eccentric, it is every bit as good as its predecessor, while never content to stay pat and rest on the laurels of the earlier record. More than capable of penning an absolutely stunning, plaintive, slow song, Rats Are Coming gives us “Sweet Driller Killer,” a clever twist of irony given that the song is about a serial killer.
Like the Beautiful South, Doleful Lions gleefully subvert pop stereotypes by wedding biting lyrics and un-poplike subjects to perfect melodies. But while Doleful Lions’ lyrics may not be as viciously funny as Paul Heaton’s (Beautiful South singer and lyricist), Doleful Lions is far more musically adventurous. There’s the aforementioned Krautrock influence, in addition to song structures that twist the pop norm and a really broad palette of sounds, ranging from moments of stark acoustic simplicity to all-out, virtually-orchestral complexity.