December 31, 2010

Album Review: Lemuria's Pebble

With the punk rock scene finding itself in the whirlwinds of emo-indie nostalgia, it makes sense that Buffalo, NY's Lemuria is making their most trying effort to date in seeking staying power. The band has been around since 2004, but had only released one formal LP (among countless demos, 7" singles and compilations) until announcing their return with Pebble, their first release with straight edge hardcore imprint, Bridge Nine Records. Lemuria's early work was colored in shades of feisty pop punk that let their Jawbreaker influence be known, but the youthful momentum has maturely transitioned on Pebble.

Album opener "Gravity" is a rather bold way to begin things, as it slowly plods around a dark bass line as Sheena Ozzella's crunchy guitar riff builds around her love-gone-wrong lyrics. The following track, "Wise People," explodes into your speaker with a rumble of drums and mid-tempo riffs that the entirety of the album rarely strays from. Throughout Pebble, Ozella and drummer Alex Kerns switch off on lead vocals or share the mic, giving Lemuria that classic boy-girl harmony that purists of the genre will appreciate. Tracks that find Ozzella stepping up to the plate ("Pleaser," "Irregular," "Ribcage") recreate the intimate indie basement sound heard on early Rainer Maria recordings while those featuring Kerns fill the void left by The Promise Ring and Jets to Brazil. Among them is the standout, "Different Girls," which contains painstakingly poignant lyrics ("Every night I sleep with different girls and we laugh about you while you are at home -- I am the worst!") that will either cause you to laugh out loud or sulk in the corner in the same way Davey von Bohlen did so self-deprecatingly well a decade ago.

The sound Lemuria is going for on Pebble can at times feels a bit samey, but its more vibrant outtakes ("Bloomer," "Chautaqua County") recapture any lost attention with a welcome change in pace. Lemuria's influences may be transparent, but as a band, Pebble shows that this small-time DIY scene band has taken healthy consideration in growing their sound since 2008's Get Better. At the very least, it's comfort food for anyone whose copies of Nothing Feels Good or Look Now Look Again have seen better days.

Lemuria's Pebble will be released January 11, 2011 on Bridge Nine Records.

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