As Tall As Lions – You Can’t Take It With You

you_cant_take_it_with_youArtist: As Tall As Lions
Album: You Can’t Take It With You
Genre: Indie Pop
Label: East West/Triple Crown

As Tall As Lions have built a loyal following over their past two releases by mixing modern pop music with a twist of indie fusion and a thick layer of romance. Even if the songs have little to do with love and sex, the crooning of Dan Nigro and crew slips into your sub-conscience and takes up residence. Their music just radiates smooth, relaxed settings and often fits perfectly into the soundtrack of human existence. Now, with the release of their third record, You Can’t Take It With You, ATAL set out to expand their sound while staying true to their longtime fans and the results are simply breathtaking.

Starting the album with a swirling of notes and quick drumming, “Circles” sucks us into the heart of the album right off the back. The band sounds tighter than ever and the structure of the song itself will simply blow you away. There is of course a constant rhythm throughout, but the group adds hand claps, drums, and other instrumentation to join as accompaniment throughout to paint vastly different plateaus for the song to exist on. This knockout then becomes a one-two punch as “Sixes and Sevens,” a much shorter, quicker paced song changes up the sound of the record entirely. Nigro really let’s his voice fly here and the time signatures criss-cross almost too soon to notice and even at this point in the album, you can see, this is not the band we use to know.

The title track gives us the most directly top 40 ready song ATAL have released to date. The beat could easily be used to create some cheesy ballad about broken hearts, but instead the band uses a near alarming amount of instrumentation to create a unique piece of art with a message to share. This idea of large scale song structure continues on what I consider the pivotal track, “In Case of Rapture.” Not only does Nigro’s voice rattle like an angel, but the inflections and accents in the music are simply mind boggling. We all know ATAL can write moving slow songs, but here we have a pretty uptempo track that packs even more heart and is more accessible for the masses. If a song could break ATAL into the public spotlight, this would be it.

As the record moves into it’s last leg, the energy and creativity continue to burst fourth as if from a fountain the group has just discovered. “Is This Tomorrow” is a harrowingly beautiful tale that comes equipped with one of the tastiest bass lines I’ve heard all year. The use of top 40 like structures and instrumentation comes back on “The Narrows” and really gives us one last uptempo hurrah before we’re taking into the truly artistic and lengthy “Lost My Mind.” For a closing track, this song works perfectly as it builds a universe for the track to exist in by itself. Beginning with simple piano accompaniment, Nigro croons as a choir joins him and, in a surprising turn, that’s nearly were the expansion stops. There is no big build into a full on jam, but rather a lovely farewell that ends with a bit of full band sound at the very tail end. This isn’t about leaving a mark, it’s about leaving without hurting the listening and ATAL does it perfectly.

The title is correct, You Can’t Take It With You, but the emotions evoked from the sounds created by As Tall As Lions on this record will echo inside you for weeks to come. The creation of this album was at times, fraught with problems, but the final result is the strongest release this band has had to offer. Everything from emotion to musicianship has been taken twice as far as ever before and I don’t see a single critic leaving this off of the “best of 09” charts. This album will change how you feel inside, but don’t take my word for it.

Score: 9.5/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Adamificus

    I couldn’t agree more. As Tall As Lions deserves every shred of attention they get after releasing such a masterpiece.

  • isaac

    i love the new album. its so atmospheric and relaxing. listening to the entire record made me feel like i did the first time i listened to “dark side of the moon”; i almost passed out.

  • thom

    Your review is spot on, but you didn’t mention my favorite track, “We’s Been Waitin'”

  • Keagan Ilvonen

    While this album isn’t as polished pretty as the last it’s beautiful in it’s own right. The band even said they wanted to do something different with this record, and I think they accomplished what they wanted. The atmosphere of the whole album is phenomenal and goes untouched by most in todays contemporary music scene.

  • Great review! “You Can’t Take It With You” is a lush and beautifully crafted work by a talented group of musicians that never cease to amaze me.

  • Christopher

    This new album is amazing. There are few albums that I can personally listen to all the way through more than once. This is one of the exceptions. Dan’s voice is effin gorgeous. And the imperfections that come with not going for the perfect take makes it perfect. If that made any sense.

  • Adam

    Couldn’t agree more with this review. I love the new album.

  • Abaco

    Amazing interview for an amazing album. This is something that will be playing on you headphones or in your car for months to come. The work As Tall As Lions have put into this release shines through in the most powerful album from one of today’s top artists. A must buy.

  • This album gives me goosebumps. I hear something new from it every time I put it in. ATAL has gotten better and better with each new venture and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. My favorite track is definetely “Is This Tomorrow?” The lyrics are incredible. Well done, boys.

  • Keyla

    A complete masterpeice by As Tall as Lions. It took a while for the release to finally arrive but the wait was without a doubt worth it. It was geniously crafted, best of all I can listen to the album at all times because the songs are not generic and they all have creat hooks, great job As Tall as Lions!

  • lorafinn

    A great review for a great band! The boys in ATAL are all so talented, their hard work and dedication payed off. You Can’t Take it With You truly is a masterpiece.

  • Lynn

    What a great review. ATAL has a sound of their own and have made great music. They are truly an amasing band and this album really takes you to another place when you listen to it. The music they made for this record still leaves me speechless every time I listen.