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As Tall As Lions (often abbreviated to ATAL) was an indie rock band from Long Island, USA, which split up in 2010. They had an unusual and individual sound, and I was quite a fan of them. For ages they were my number one most played artist on Last.fm although currently they are in third place after Nada Surf and Death Cab For Cutie. Unfortunately I never got to see them live.
Lafcadio was the first full album from the band As Tall As Lions after their previous EP, Blood and Aphorisms. Lafcadio included re-recordings of a few of the songs from the EP, and the album came out in 2004. It is a brilliant debut - emotional, intricate, sweeping and beautiful.
=== Tracklist of Lafcadio===
Why We Cry At Movies
If I'm Not Out Burning
My Glowing Morning Dreams
A Ghost In Drag
Blowing Out a Wish
Goodnite, Noises Everywhere
Four of these were re-recordings of songs from the previous EP: Break Blossom, A Ghost In Drag (EP version is called And The Wick Burnt Black), If I'm Not Out Burning and Goodnite, Noises Everywhere.
The album is quite a standard length at 43:51.
=== Atmosphere ===
On the first listen you might find that a lot of the songs on this album blend in together a little bit. I do think the style throughout the album remains quite similar - rocky, with some slower and intimate sounding parts building into big climaxes - but I think they sound very different to most other bands. The singer, Dan Nigro, has a distinctive voice and his vocals feature on every song. He can really sing well and reaches some high notes, holding them for a long time when necessary, kind of wailing.
To me Lafcadio has a slightly otherwordly and haunting quality to it at times. The music is really atmospheric and at times intense.
=== Individual Tracks ===
Break Blossom is a great opener to this album. It is powerful and catchy but with intricate guitar.
96 Heartbeats is one of my favourites and I have often put this on playlists or mix CDs. It starts with some excellent guitar and pounding percussion, before Dan's high pitched vocal kicks in. It is so catchy and makes me want to tap my feet and sing!
Silhouettes/Silhouetting also has impact right from the start due to some great piano and impressive vocals. The band has sometimes been lumped in with various Emo bands of the time ("emotional rock" usually meant as an insult!) and this is possibly due to some of the melodramatic lyrics they have in songs like this, such as "I'll remember your smile coming out as i cling on with eyes, cursed all the sky you were on", sang in quite an earnest and heartfelt way.
The Carousel is a lot of people's favourites from the album and I love it too. It is intense, catchy but sounds kind of sad. The meaning of the lyrics are not really clear - a lot of people think it is about a broken home or parents divorcing but Dan, the singer, has claimed "it is a song about nothing"! So who knows. This builds up into a huge crescendo before moving onto the next song.
Acrobat is a quiet, tender and delicate song with some nice but simple lyrics, "do you still wish you were beautiful? Because you will always be beautiful..."
Why We Cry At Movies is another more low key one, relaxed, laid back and quietly beautiful with excellent vocals. It seems to be about how there is always inevitably some pain in relationships - "I guess there's no way to make love and not break our hearts".
If I'm Not Out Burning is a much faster, harder and rockier song which makes a change from the last two. There are some interesting images in the lyrics and the strong beat makes this song really enjoyable.
My Glowing Morning Dream is a fairly short instrumental, at 2 minutes 43 seconds. It is simply gorgeous, very relaxing and ambient to start, building up into something much more powerful and just amazing.
A Ghost In Drag follows on from the previous instrumental. This is a lot of people's favourite on the album and I like it, but I actually prefer the previous instrumental even more! It is quite a conflicted and bitter song from the lyrics, about liking someone but not pursuing it.
Blowing Out A Wish has a slow and haunting start, leading into a beautiful melody. The vocals are full of intensity and yearning and the song is about loss. This is one of my favourites on the album.
Goodnite, Noises Everywhere is a peaceful, soft song and much more laid back than most of this album. There are not many lyrics. The lyrics there are are simple and self explanatory such as "I should be safe, we should be safe" and there is a lovely soft piano accompaniment which becomes more intricate and more interesting as it goes on. It tails off gradually with no big crescendo, almost like falling asleep.
=== Over all ===
I would recommend this CD, especially to anyone who likes alternative music or rock with individuality and isn't afraid of quite intense and emotional lyrics and vocals.
I would recommend to fans of bands like Manchester Orchestra, Paper Rival, Dear and the Headlights, Lydia.