Album of the Week: Lieutenant – “If I Kill This Thing…” by J. Nifras

Posted on Posted in Reviews

The solo project of former Sunny Day Real Estate/current Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel is, at its core, melodic, gentle, and at times, comforting indie bliss. For years, Mendel has been performing under the shadow of his bands’ lead songwriters, but If I Kill This Thing is the first taste listeners will get of his now-uncovered songwriting chops.

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The record also features some of Mendel’s musical friends, such as SDRE vocalist Jeremy Egink and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett, among others. Despite the album’s long guest list, the end result doesn’t feel too congested.

Tracks such as the rather upbeat “Bell Epoque” and “Prepared Remarks” showcase Mendel’s craft for creating very pleasant and gratifying melodies. An immediate focus on this record is Mendel’s vocal style, which, rather than loud and confrontational like his respective bands’ frontmen, is especially calm, reserved, almost mumbled. His vocal style really shines especially on the track “Believe the Squalor”, a gentle, shimmering piece of indie rock, where Mendel’s hushed vocals match up flawlessly with the laid back instrumentation.

Sometimes this vocal style can detract against him, coming off as uninspired or even boring. Despite this, If I Kill This Thing is a sweet indie rock record, more appropriate for lying back in an armchair rather than blasting through hi-tech speakers. He’s not nearly the captivating performer such as the frontmen he’s usually backing, but at least it’s a more enjoyable listen than Sonic Highways!

Stream the record via Spotify below, and you can look for it in the Iris Records bins soon!

Jeremy Nifras can be contacted here.

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