National Eye

Roomful of Lions

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National Eye's debut album, 2003's The Meter Glows, was a ramshackle but often fascinating affair that touched on Will Oldham-style fractured country, the lo-fi-folkie mopery of the Silver Jews or (Smog) and the tape-loop experimentation of the Olivia Tremor Control. The even better Roomful of Lions is a much more mature and focused affair, with stronger songwriting and a more unique musical point of view. The Philadelphia-based quintet still interrupt their songs with unexpected noise bursts, but with a greater sense of song structure: witness the freaky air-raid-siren guitar that interrupts the hushed opening of "Bird and Sword," introducing the more up-tempo body of the song proper. As before, the democratic, collective feel of the songwriting and singing means that no one member of the group dominates, but throughout, the band is so clearly on the same page musically that there's an aesthetic unity that binds together the echoing, creepy psychedelia of "Invisible Raincoat" and the skewed Pavement-esque indie rock of "The Switch." Roomful of Lions is a deeply satisfying, multi-layered album.

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