Over the course of 2008 and 2009, Wounded Lion released a string of singles that were as weird as they were addictively catchy. Their brilliantly simple garage pop songs about centaurs and Star Wars were bona fide earworms, but could the band sustain that kind of offbeat humor through an entire album? Their self-titled debut full-length answers that question with a strong -- if not quite resounding -- yes. Wounded Lion works partly because it’s nice and concise, gathering some of the band’s singles and new songs into a set that’s just under half an hour, and partly because the band’s style is so minimal that it’s remarkably malleable. Those singles are just as appealing here as they were on 7" vinyl, especially “Creatures in the Cave,” which finds Wounded Lion leader Brad Eberhard sounding uncannily like an (even more) unhinged David Byrne as he shouts “I’m in love! I’m in the cave!” “Pony People” is also a standout, with oddly philosophical lyrics like “Lotta people are lookin’ for themselves/And they find what they want/Sometimes” set to music that sounds like a lost early-‘60s proto-garage gem -- if they wrote songs about satyrs back then, that is. Though these songs sound a little more polished than the single versions, they’re still a bewitching mix of strange and simple, with an outsider art quality that can leave listeners scratching their heads even if they can sing or play along to them in a matter of minutes. Wounded Lion’s new songs have plenty of art brut moments, too, especially the rumbling album opener “Hungry?” and “Black Sox,” which ends with a tribal chant of “Comment allez-vous?,” but the band also finds ways to get more subtle and more straightforward. “Silver People” dials down the whimsy and focuses on driving rock, while “Belt of Orion” plays with structure and harmonies while making interstellar travel feel like running into old friends. Wounded Lion even closes with the band’s version of a love song: the country-tinged “Crünchy Stars” puts the "croon" back in “crunchy” and manages to be weird and sweet at the same time. While die-hard fans of the band will be momentarily bummed that some singles didn’t make it to this album, the fun Wounded Lion have on their debut is just as contagious here.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares