Tiger Lou sounds more like some stereotypical Bronx kid clad in a worn leather jacket and bruises aplenty who sits across the street from the Stuyvensent school looking to beat up some science geek rather than someone who, while also in a leather jacket, chooses to sit in a corner and mope minimalistically. However, the latter is more sufficient than the former when describing the band. It’s too bad that also describes a lot of bands that may or may not have members who were rather stoked when The Cure’s reunion CD came out. Those who make up Tiger Lou seem to adhere to that fairly well, and why not? This album is full of the kind of cherubic sadness that sparked the most popular goth, anti-goth, paleogoth and neogoth bands. Their melodies are pleasant, if not hypnotizing and inspire wistful thoughts (the aforementioned The Cure) as opposed to self-mutilation (Throbbing Gristle), sadly they do not do both (Joy Division).
This should not obscure Tiger Lou’s better moments, however. For one, sounding mopey isn’t altogether a terrible thing, it’s all in how you present it. While some bands go well out of their way to blast the listener’s skull with a devil may care-approach to rock n’ roll despair, with loud, echoing guitars and bass that can be at once fluid and hemorrhaging, Tiger Lou takes a more self-regulated approach. There’s a simplicity that to Tiger Lou’s songs, whether out of want or necessity, that simply work. No more is put into a song that needs to be put in. In addition, Tiger Lou are not monotone droners and crooners, whereas a good many songs are indeed held together by gentle, slow chords and wanting vocals, other can be more energetic. “Functions,” “Nixon” and “Albino Apparel” are given pulses from bare-boned funk riffs. It is in these numbers in which Rasmus Kellerman really proves himself to be a frontman, not just with the bravado but with the voice as well. Kellerman’s voice has prowess, the kind that stands amidst a room of lunkheads and mountebanks and simply demands attention with simple, justifiable confidence.
Whether his lyrics hold up such an argument is really up to one’s taste—if they’re one to give a shit about the words. Since Kellerman is a Swede, it could be said that though his English is doubtless better than most Americans, his poetics might need some polishing. For instance, Kellerman need not rhyme so goddamn much, particularly in the first song: “High strung and poorly hung/ I think we’re much too young/ I hear a sound from your left lung/A melody so beautifully sung.” Sounds good coming from him, but perused from the pages of the insert raises eyebrows in a non-provocative provocative kind of way. Then again Strindberg translations were never that great either so I’ll give the man the benefit of a doubt. But to be safe I highly urge Mr. Kellerman to read more Thomas Hardy.
MP3: “The Loyal”