As someone trying to get into wine, I’ve found that wine doesn’t just taste like fermented grapes. You never say it tastes ‘wine-y.’ It’s black cherry, oak, smoke infused, mocha tasting and dry or wet and hopefully aerated well. It’s a fucking mess. Music is the same way.
Oklahoma City’s Tiger Lily are a pop punk band with notes of New Found Glory, hints of The Get Up Kids, and a modern beard-punk finish. Their EP, Won’t Let This Kill Me is a blend of pop punk new and old and for the right listener might be a revelation. For me, however, it was a handful of highlights buried in a sound I could never fully appreciate
The distorted chords of EP opener “I Feel It Because I Don’t” might have misled me slightly. They carry with them a certain weight, the sonic sensibility of a post-Hot Water Music band more in love with big, brash melodies than their progenitor would ever admit. But instead of leading into the gruff and forlorn minor melody of a thousand PBR’s, it takes a left turn into the chug-a-chugs of a mid-aughties pop punk breakdown. This affectation alone brings a sour taste to my mouth– bringing to mind jumping guitarists springing to the air in choreographed unison. Its a reminder of a bastardization that still holds influence today.
When Tiger Lily veers closer to their emo influences, the results are generally more impressive. “See Myself” is contemplative and earnest in a way many bands can only impersonate. Its a stark contrast to the relative cleanness of Won’t Let This Kill Me’s opening track. Here, Tiger Lily plays raw, with their hearts on their sleeves. There’s an urgent emotional realness inherent in “See Myself” that makes it a standout track.
Won’t Let This Kill Me ends with the title track and it proves to be a mixed bag. Its still decorated with trappings of pop punk’s most embarrassing era, but its sense of dynamics and the subtle, building instrumentation present in its crescendo help it partially transcend some of its weak sonic vocabulary.
The musicianship is here. Tiger Lily can play their instruments and execute an idea. The problem here is with content. Is what they’re saying, what they’re going for musically, something worthy of admiration? Music is a funny thing; a bad song played well is still a bad song. The same as a good song played poorly is also a bad song. With Tiger Lily, I’m not sure if the songs trapped under their chosen genre leanings are good or bad songs, because the choices they make obscure them to the point of being a footnote in a larger stylistic aping. Won’t Let This Kill Me shows a band working out its sound, throwing influences at the wall to see what sticks. If you have an appropriately broad palette, this might just please your earbuds, but for me, I found it a bit young.