Light (one-sided 12”) EP
(Pirates Press Records)
While the quality of Hunting Lions’ Dark EP can’t be denied, anyone who hears the band’s Light EP (which will be released later this month and in the same format – with all the music on one side and a graphic on the other) may be inclined to argue that the band really held the best songs back for this release. From note one, there’s an energetic sense of urgency which was implied on the Dark EP, but not quite realized – or not realized as clearly as it is on this EP.
From note one, it’s easy to note the difference between the Dark EP and the Light EP. Here, there’s the sense of urgency which was implied on the Dark EP, but it’s completely realized; the tumblers align in a manner which almost feels charmed. On “Little Girl,” the pop punk hooks are pristine and beautifully barbed while lines like “There’s always something that you can’t have/ If you like the ending it hurts so bad” are the sort that listeners can be hooked and dragged along by, indefinitely. Compared to the play on the Dark EP, it’s easy enough to understand that the pop chops here are definitely the work of the same band – but the tightness of the performance and the quality with which the song plays is second to none. “Little Girl” marks a completely different kind of development for Hunting Lions and, after the song completes its four-minute running, listeners won’t just be ready, they’ll be excited for more.
As excited as listeners who were hooked by “Little Girl” might be, even the first listen to “Maggie’s Date” (the cut which comes second in the EP’s running) illustrates that Hunting Lions isn’t immune to an occasional misstep. There, the band trades the solid and crunchy sound of “Little Girl” for a much more syrupy and slick sound for “Maggie’s Date” (imagine Gaslight Anthem trying to play with mean hangovers the morning after a hard day’s night on stage, and you’re on the right track), and the going gets even more treacherous through the hard feelings anthem that is “Good Riddance” (let’s be honest – anytime a singer utters the word “cunt” in the twenty-first century, it lands like a dead-blow hammer – and that proves to hold true here).
As roughly as the mid-playing of the Light EP may play, the sound immediately reverts and recovers as “Hungry Heart” sees the band find a solid, mid-tempo punk place to inhabit that listeners will be able to genuinely appreciate before closing out the running on a very incendiary note with “Nothing Wrong.” There, Jeremy Catrambone and Greg McEntee lay down a fantastic torrent of guitars and Coleman really grits his teeth as he vows to never do what “they say.” The results are fantastic – easily the strongest close that Hunting Lions could have set up for this EP – and listeners will know they’ll need to hear it again, when the needle lifts from it.
Standing back from the Light EP and how it could potentially relate with its Dark counterpart, there’s no question that both EPs have enough highlights that Hunting Lions could have combined the pair into one LP. Granted, this critic can understand through gritted teeth why the band chose to make two releases out of this music but, at some point, losing the graphics on the B-sides of Dark and Light and combining them into one would be make for one solid album. [Bill Adams]
Hunting Lions’ Light EP will begin shipping on April 10, 2023. Buy it here, directly from Pirates’ Press Records.