It is really difficult to review IVXLCDM, the new Wounded Lion album, without conjuring up images of David Byrne and his unfeasibly large shouldered suit. Lead singer Brad Eberhard sounds so like the Talking Heads singer you could swear that either they are related, there's been a Freak Friday style vocals swap or transplant surgery has been involved. This let me tell you is a good thing. There are far too many identikit vocalists who are indistinguishable from one another that it's a refreshing changes to hear someone push the vocal boat out a little further to the left field than most.
Despite the vocal similarities to Byrne there are few tracks on the album that actually sound like the Talking Heads, instead the band serve up an all you can eat indie banquet with a menu that mixes up influences with the finesse of a gourmet chef. Album opener 'Monkeys' hits a spot somewhere between They Might Be Giants and The Modern Lovers and is catchier than baseball mitt dipped in superglue. 'Roman Values', 'Wyld Parrots' and 'Black Ops' are louder, punkier, more strident, pitching their tents in a rarely visited corner of the musical world occupied by The Dead Kennedys and Liars.
After such a raucous start 'Going Into The Unknown' comes as a surprise. It's a dose of glum rock that sounds like it's borrowed a raincoat from Echo & The Bunnymen to watch Joy Division in the Manchester rain. It's a downbeat yin to the often upbeat yang of the rest of the album. It's Wounded Lion proving to any detractors who have boxed them into a quirky garage pop punk corner that they can glum it up with the best of them. It's not the best track on the album but by god it's good. It's not long, however, before we're back to the raucous, quirky pop punk with 'Sacagewea' which sounds like grunge if it had been invented by David Byrne.
The last four tracks on the album sum up the virtuosity of the band. From the old school call and response punk of 'I'm Sad' through the Liarsesque 'Raincheck Vibrations' before finally finishing with a flourish with 'Oh Jim' a poppy little number that sounds like The Modern Lovers fronted by David Byrne.
So if you've been paying attention the albums influences include Talking Heads, Liars, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Modern Lovers, grunge, Joy Division, They Might Be Giants and The Dead Kennedys. I did tell you that Wounded Lion mix up the influences and they don't get much more mixed up than that.
On their impressive debut album Wounded Lion the quirkiness and humour was a little over bearing at times. Thankfully on IVXLCDM they've toned the quirkiness down a little without losing that spark that makes them such a joy to behold.