Lemuria is one of those bands that has evolved with each release. Their first release in 2004, technically a self released demo, was more or less a pop punk record. It steered clear of the genre bullshit. It was not just reheated Ramones riffs. But, the energy was more that of pop punk. As time progressed, they started to play with their sound. Allowing songs to get a little longer, a little more complex, and a little more thought out. Especially lyrically. I mean, the lyrics and delivery on the song “Let’s Think About What Just Happened” (from the 2004 demo) are a little awkward.
Between then and now, the band put out some 7 inches and splits (notably they did a split with Kind Of Like Spitting. The split with them features the KOLS song that I named the blog after). They collected all their 7″ material and compilation tracks on a release called The First Collection in 2007. While being a compilation release, it has held up really well, and does not sound disjointed, save for maybe a track or two. For people like me, this was the first introduction to the band.
In 2008, they released Get Better. It was the debut full length, and was a a hell of a debut at that. This release kind of solidified what this band was capable of. Fast pop punk songs, mid tempo indie song, and great lyrics start to finish. In my opinion, there was no filler on that album. So, yeah, they set the bar pretty high for themselves.
So, in 2011, we now have Pebble. It is out on, oddly enough, hardcore stalwart label Bridge Nine. Which is kind of a weird pairing, given the style Lemuria plays vs. what B9 is known for. J Robbins did the productions, and I am a fan of his work. He has produced so many of my favourite bands, including Jawbreaker, Braid, and The Promise Ring. He did a great job. The tones are great. It sounds clean without sound over polished. So, that is great.
But, the record has some rough patches. It falls into, what I call, “I’m Henery The VIII, I Am syndrome.” Less Than Jake is guilty of this a lot as well. Basically the second verse is the same as the first. Not to shit on this type of thing, as it is pretty common, but it can get old pretty quickly. You have to make sure that the verse you are repeating is a hell of a verse. Not every song is guilty of this. The most notable offender is the song Pleaser. Which is about 90% made up of the lyric “I am hinting hard, I am a hard hinter. I am a pleaser, and I am hinting hard.” This song goes on for damn near four minutes. It is a great song, but I think it provides a good example.
The album opener, Gravity, is not what one would expect from a pop-punk/indie band. Very slow, very calm, sounding not unlike a song The xx would put out (sans the overused synth lines that The xx are so fond of). More or less, an ok song. But, not really indicative of the album’s tone. There is not really any fast songs, it is mostly a mid tempo affair, but it has all the catchy hooks one would expect.
Lyrically, this album just seems darker. I mean, Get Better had some less than cheerful lyrics (see Hawaiian T-Shirt or Lipstick). Pebble tops that. I mean, one of the most cheerful and poppy songs on is about sexual abuse. Seriously, check out the song Bloomer.
Sheena Ozzella sounds fantastic on the record. Her vocals sound better than ever. The same is true for Alex Kerns. They are very good at doing back and forth vocals. The vocals are mixed well, and stand out clearly over their guitar and drums, respectively. Looks like, on this release, the bass duties were filled by Kyle Paton. He has since left the band due to immigration troubles with Canada. As I mentioned previously, the bass sounds great on here. Check out the song Chautauqua County to see what I mean.
One issue I have about this record is that the songwriting does not have the split that Get Better (or even The First Collection) had. This record was very much the Alex Kerns show. Out of 11 songs, he wrote 10 of them. Lyrically, Sheena was only involved with the lyrics of the last song, The One. Which I think is one of the best songs on the album. I mean, yeah, the ratio usually falls in his favor. If you go to their site and look at the lyrics, he has more writing credit overall. But, I feel like this album was too reliant on him. I like him as a song writer, he has a demo album online of at If You Make It that was really good. I just wish Sheena had more songs on the album. I think this might have helped squelch the above mentioned Henery The VIII, I Am syndrome. Not a deal breaker by any means though. But, I really think I would have rather had a Sheena song instead of Yellowstone Lady. Just saying.
All in all, a good record. I think my expectations were really high for this, given how much I loved Get Better. This being out so early in the year, I am not sure how it will hold up against other releases this year. But, it has set the bar pretty high. If you like indie pop, do not sleep on this record. While you are at it, get their split with the Cheap Girls too.