Doleful Lions

Out Like a Lamb

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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason

After the genial but largely forgettable guitar pop of 1998's Motel Swim, Chapel Hill's Doleful Lions turned downright freaky. 1999's The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! showcased singer/songwriter Jonathan Scott's growing fascination with horror films and the paranormal, as well as an increased fondness for '70s Krautrock and other progressive music forms; 2000's Song Cyclops, Vol. 1 was even weirder, a mostly acoustic set recorded by Scott on his own that approaches Roky Erickson territory in its obsession with demons and monsters. 2002's Out Like a Lamb returns to the full-band format and ratchets down the lyrical weirdness a notch or two, with wondrous results. Their most layered and richest-sounding album, Out Like a Lamb synthesizes the starkness of Song Cyclops with the sound-for-sound's-sake neo-psychedelia of The Rats Are Coming, resulting in songs like "Surfside Motel," which builds slowly from a simple acoustic guitar and vocal into a mixture of Phil Spector-like tympani rolls and Neu!-style synthesizer drones, or "Dear Lazarus," which recalls the acoustic songs on The Beatles [White Album]. The songs are still on the odd side -- "1723" is a stirring, almost martial waltz about the founding of freemasonry, and the title track is filled with bizarre extraneous noises underneath an otherwise lilting pop song -- but Out Like a Lamb is an inviting and often fascinating album.

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