Tigers Jaw - Spirit Desire [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)

Tigers Jaw

Spirit Desire [7 inch] (2009)

Tiny Engines

Arriving like the tragically fatal punch inflicted upon Apollo Creed by Ivan Drago in that harrowing Rocky IV scene, Tigers Jaw's eponymous LP, released last year, was a shock to the system. But unlike the death of ‘The Dancing Destroyer,' the shock that defined the Tigers Jaw LP was positive (a symptom of birth, not death) -- an album of astounding quality, flawless from start to finish. Yet while that shock has since worn off, it has now been replaced in equal measure by expectation and a yearning for more -- a yearning that has at least partially been quelled by the band's latest release, the four-track Spirit Desire EP.

Indeed, fans will be pleased to hear that much like the Tigers Jaw album, the songwriting formulas here remain largely the same -- minimal verses that explode into hook-laden choruses, dual vocals discreetly harmonized to great effect and lyrics that document personal struggles, relationships and an apparent obsession with the sun.

Each song is pinned together with chord progressions that are never complex, rather, constructed around what is essentially a minimalist, simplistic utilization of hook and melody, and this is what makes Tigers Jaw so endearing: They take something small, something simple, and build upon it -- listen to the acoustic version of "Spirit Desire," available on their Tour EP, and then compare it with the full-band version on this release and your eyes will be opened to their subtle genius.

However, while "Spirit Desire" and the modestly named "We Are Great, There Is Only One (Tigers Jaw)" are highlights that continue in the trend of the Tigers Jaw LP, "Crystal Vision" lacks any real punch and fades out just when it seems to be reaching a crescendo -- a fact compensated by the short but sweet bonus track "Meet Me at the Corner" that ends leaving the listener satisfied, but not overwhelmed -- a sentiment that is ironically definitive of this release overall, for Spirit Desire meets rather than exceeds one's expectations, a release that doesn't surpass its predecessor, but like Apollo Creed, gives it its best shot.