Album Review: Silent Lions, ‘The Compartments’

Written by Brendan Hourican

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My first Silent Lions experience was a live show on a Monday night at The Saint in Asbury Park. My band was lucky enough to jump on the bill and join the Lions for a show as they were nearing the end of an East Coast Tour. That’s right, a real East Coast Tour. I was so impressed at the hustle of these guys as they told us all the places they have been and all the things they have done all on their own. I continue to be impressed by these guys as I follow their rise, but that’s not why I’m still paying attention.

Silent Lions have tapped into something truly original and captivating. It was clear to me the first time I saw them play their songs and witnessed their drive that they would not be going away any time soon. At that time they had just released an epic indie/rock/too many genres to count song called “ripe people” that was so catchy and interesting, it was clear they were no amateur indie band. Fast forward to today, the Silent Lions have probably played a thousand shows since that Monday night, and released their second album The Compartments, and it’s sick.

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The words “heavy soul” have been used to describe these guys, and I think that’s the best and easiest way to describe them to a first time listener, even thought there are so many other words that are left out. They have found a way to blend so many styles seamlessly, almost making it hard to pick out the different styles. In this case, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, and the Silent Lions original style can transcend any musical adjective you can think of in one song without it being jarring or even noticeable.

The Compartments is really good. I can easily hear these songs on so many different radio stations, in basements, clubs, theaters, stadiums. The songwriting is really smart. The word “smart” popped into my head so many times while listening, because the album really is. Every part is clever, well worked out, and fits perfectly into its song. The choruses are impossibly catchy and the vocals are captivating. I can’t say much about the lyrics, because they are often drowning in the reverb. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with this, because the melodies will do for now, and there will be plenty listens in the future for me to pick out all the lyrics. Some of these riffs feel like they should have definitely written before, like so many musicians really messed up for not thinking of them.

The first single, “Stolen in the Heat of the Moment,” is perfectly hooky and catchy, while being gritty and aggressive. It’s a great showcase of all these guys can do. Synth parts, samples, pounding drums, fuzzy bass, beautiful harmonies, all with coming from a duo. That’s right people, a duo. If you aren’t impressed by knowing that from hearing the recordings, I beg you to see them live. Front man Dean Tartaglia can be seen hammering and pulling his bass strings with his left hand, playing synth/samples with his right, and operating pedals with his feet. It’s truly a sight to see and the resulting noises are even better.

Anyway, back to The Compartments and how it’s really good. Every song is unique, but definitely fitting on the same album. The beginning of every song is distinct (that might be unreasonable criteria but I love when it happens) and there’s not a bad song. Hearing all these great songs from a synth/bass/drum band makes me wonder why guitars were ever considered necessary for a rock band. Although, is Silent Lions a rock band? Who knows. What I’m trying to say, is that if you want hipster cred from knowing a really cool band before they got big, you better get into Silent Lions quick, because their trajectory is headed upwards.

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