Four Lions’ new album Vahland comes from some pretty dark places. You’ve Ruined All My Favourite Songs captures the overall tone.
“There are songs you introduce to someone in a relationship that you can’t listen to when it’s over. Not a positive association!” says Shann Lions, Four Lions’ songwriter, over coffee at Bendigo’s Percy & Percy. It’s a Friday morning – dull, grey and pouring with rain. Kind of fits the mood of the album.
Never Giving Up, the longest track on Vahland which closes the album, is an “insight into grief and loss. About how people process things differently”. It’s one of the album’s stand-outs and a clear nod in the direction of Lions’ Americana influences.
Vahland was released on September, 1. Lions and bandmates Keith MacQueen (guitar), Greg Perry (bass) and Gav Moncrieff (drums) launch the new album at The Golden Vine next Saturday, September, 10.
After debut album Charing Cross, the Golden Triangle EP and now Vahland it’s very clear that a strong Bendigo theme is running through Four Lions’ work. Bendigo not only comes through in many of the songs (all the songs on Golden Triangle) but also in Lions’ choice of artwork. The Vahland cover features the band in some iconic Bendigo CBD locations. German-born William Vahland was the architect responsible for many of Bendigo’s iconic Victorian buildings. His CV includes over 100 of the city’s buildings.
So popular is the artwork that launch posters have actually been stolen. Lions offers a wry grin. “Bit strange. But it’s a compliment I guess!”
Vahland is more of the now familiar Four Lions alt-country sound – reminiscent to some degree of Richmond Fontaine. In Nothing Land and Misery Loves Company though, the faster-paced, more indie-like tempo they introduced on Golden Triangle comes through.
Misery Loves Company is about “looking to get free. A few years ago I had this recurring dream,” Lions explains, “I was standing on top of a building, then jumping off and flying.”
Vahland was recorded in a stripped-down way at Sound Recordings in Campbells Creek. “I wanted it to feel real. It was a ‘bucket list’ thing to do, all analog, effectively recorded live. We recorded it with no headphones. Just four blokes in a room with a few old microphones. We went straight onto 1/2” tape on an 8-track reel to reel machine.”
Vahland is a superbly-crafted sophomore album; the familiar, often mellow sound contrasts well with its darker lyrical themes. Four Lions are carving out a position for themselves as the musical chroniclers of Bendigo.
The Bendigo launch of Vahland is at The Golden Vine on Saturday, September, 10. Support comes from Frank Bell.