Hearts Like Lions - If I Never Speak Again (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Hearts Like Lions

If I Never Speak Again (2017)


On the first few listens, Hearts Like Lions aren't a band that hit you straight away. But there's something infectious about their music that'll keep you hooked because you can tell there's something at their core that you recognize. However, it's one that you just can't put a finger on quite yet. In spending time, and letting it grow on me, I realized that If I Never Speak Again weaves its way into me like a mix of Saosin and a defunct band I loved called As Tall As Lions. After pinpointing this and getting cozy for a couple weeks, the music they're making can best be described as nu-indie. There's a rough-edged yet melodic mid-tempo drive to HLL that ends up producing one of the year's biggest surprises.

This nu-indie sound is ideally found on "Get This Through", "Am I Afraid?" and "It's Not Gonna Be This Way" but before you get there, the coming-of-age record opens up with a straight-up Saosin jam (well one of their softer ones at least) called "You're On Your Own". What makes these tracks work is how versatile and well-mixed the guitars are, from intricate cutting solos to shimmery, dreamy chords. 

Even when on the slow burns of "Let On" and "Opportunities" (which feels like Citizen), the band powers through due to how clean and talented Stephan Ramos is on vocals. He has that smooth voice you'd expect to hear on a nu-wave Warped Tour band but the musical style they possess keep him balanced from sounding too cheesy or overproduced. "Thank You Very Little" soars to a shoutalong ending and has a Will Yip-produced sound to it in its hazy guitars and swelling hooks, and is arguably the record's most radio-friendly yet best track. It summarizes HLL as a band you think would be too mainstream for you, yet when you let them sink in you can tell there's a lot of relatable emotions to swirl through.