ALBUM REVIEW: Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week
Lieutenant, better known as Foo Fighters and Sunny Day Real Estates Nate Mendel made his debut album appearance this week. His LP ‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week’ was available for streaming through Soundcloud prior to it’s March 10th general release through Dine Alone Records.
In terrific alternative rock fashion the album plays on Mendel’s experience with both The Foo Fighters who he’s been with since 1995 after the band of his original fame, Sunny Day Real Estate disbanded in 1995. This isn’t Nate’s first side project as he formed the band The Fire Theft in 2001 with whom he released a self titled album and toured with until 2004 when the band went on a seemingly indefinite hiatus. Mendel’s 20 years of switching between the punky grunge bass styles of the Foo Fighters and the more melodic musical flights of Sunny Day Real Escape are both visible influences on Lieutenant making for some interesting listening. The album was recorded with The Shin’s drummer, Joe Plummer with guest appearances from The Head and The Hearts’ Josiah Johnson, Helmet’s Page Hamilton and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett, making for a mixed and interesting combination of sounds, styles and influences throughout.
The difference with Mendel’s solo material seems to be his pursual of a more alternative rock sound, free from Dave Grohl’s often mainstream, easily absorbed song writing, ‘If I Kill’ doesn’t shy away from trying to be something a little fresh and new. The pacing of tracks changes frequently throughout the album, and tracks are clearly influenced by some of the guest musicians featured and more often than not, sound effortlessly beautiful. Tracks such as ‘Prepared Remarks’ and ‘Believe the Squalor’ seem highly influenced by Mendels’s Sunny Day Real Estate years and make use of similar ethereal vocals as tracks such as ’48’ from their 1994 album Diary. However Mendel’s voice occasionally struggles to hit the range that we hear from Grohl or Sunny Day’s, Dan Hoerner and makes tracks feel a little more rigid than they could be.
This seems to be the problem the album has throughout in that it pushes itself too far and sections of tracks such as ‘Sink Sand’ seem a little too cluttered with the use of echoes on Mendel’s voice and brass sections failing to synch up with deep bass riffs. Whenever the album allows itself room to breathe and Mendel builds the song slowly and intelligently you get some gripping and engaging material, ‘Rattled’ for example manages to incorporate elements of Mendel’s past work with catchy riffs and grunge-esque bass and make it work perfectly. Although even this track demonstrates Mendel’s voice struggling to hit the well written riff work he’s clearly picked up from his time with The Foo Fighters. The lyrics are impressively well written for someone who’s never truly stepped into the spotlight of front man stardom and mirror the soul searching vibes and tones Sunny Day Real Estate fans will be familiar with.
The albums aspirations are well placed and although he doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot with the tempo of certain tracks or the heights required of his voice he writes with much more fluidity than Foo Fighters last record, ‘Sonic Highways’. Mendel’s album seems to be a breath of fresh air in the current stagnating solo artist rock scene and is definitely worth giving a chance with a couple of playthroughs before it’s officially released later this month.