Authenticity is the key to everything great about this album.
Label: Run For Cover Records
Released: 23rd October 2015
Petal, the project of Scranton, PA singer-songwriter Kiley Lotz, have been something of a curiosity within the indie/emo/punk (they’re basically all the same these days, right?) scene, with its rotating live cast including members of Tigers Jaw and Captain, We’re Sinking. But now that debut album ‘Shame’ is with us at last (after a brilliant first offering with the Scout EP from 2013), Petal look more than ready to shrug the “x’s other band” tag.
The striking thing about ‘Shame’ is just now relentlessly nice it all is. Not in a half-hearted, “oh, that’s nice” kind of way, either. ‘Nice’ in the sense that it’s nearly impossible not to be taken in by the record’s charm. Whether Lotz is caught in melancholy reflection, as she is on opening track ‘Camera Lens’, or singing sweetly about being in love on ‘Heaven’, there’s a deeply personal level of honesty to every word sung on the album, leaving the subject matter entirely believable and easy to empathise with.
That authenticity is the key to everything great about this album. The lyrics are forthcoming, the guitars are simple and just as unobtrusive as it feels they should be and the vocal melodies seem to flow and peak exactly where you’d expect. There’s no unnecessary complications here, nothing done for the sake of doing it. Every song on ‘Shame’ sounds as though it’s been written to a feeling, and those feelings shine through from start to finish.
With both members of Tigers Jaw involved in the recording of ‘Shame’ (Ben Walsh playing guitars and drums on the album, while Brianna Collins plays bass and offers backing vocals), it’s hard not to draw comparisons between this record and Tigers Jaw’s back catalog – and with the record’s indie-pop allure, they’re certainly there to be made – but Lotz’ vocals are far more dominant than those on any Tigers Jaw release, pushing ‘Shame’ into a space far closer to the likes of Adventures or Death Cab For Cutie. Ryan De Freitas