Review by Eugenia Vela.
There is no one specific moment in which you realize how much you’ve fallen so hopelessly in love with Tamer Animals. This second album from Other Lives is beautiful—so beautiful and so complete that before you know it, all 11 songs will be on your “25 Most Played.” Or that’s what happened to me, anyway. But let me begin by saying, it’s very uncommon for a band with such a successful debut to follow up with something that will fulfill listeners’ expectations and still manage to surprise us. Tamer Animals has done and will continue to do just that.
The band, which consists of five musicians from Stillwater, Oklahoma, managed to once again take an impressive collection of instruments and play and gamble in a way that makes effortless sense. With piano, guitar, violin, French horn, trumpets, the cello, the organ and more—way more—we enter a world of wonderous disarray that’s altogether overwhelming yet comforting. Like the organized mess of your lifetime bedroom, Tamer Animals welcomes you, enwraps you in barely-recognizable lyrics and warm, heavy melodies.
With inspiration of small towns and scarily vast deserts of emptiness, the members of Other Lives speak of what they know. Speaking of what they know is why their songs work. There’s the familiarity of feeling alone, never lonely, in the middle of an empty road. Or the strange curiosity while flying on an airplane, overlooking the tiny bubbles of lights that suddenly disappear into the dark and open fields.
Other Lives tells stories through incredibly beautiful music that leaves behind gentle traces of Leonard Cohen and Mychael Danna, that will appeal to Radiohead fans as well as lovers of The National. Put more simply, if you listen to Pantera, don’t pick up this album.
But listeners will play this album from start to finish. With the starting build-up of “Dark Horse” and the western-inspired “For 12,” the dark and dramatic title track and majestic booms of “Desert,” listeners will play and replay. The volume will rise enough to fill the empty spaces of a bedroom or a long car ride, and the whimsy sounds of “Woodwind Loop” and the devilish playfulness of “Landforms” will go on until you trace back each intricate riff to its beginning, and descifer each lyric that hides under Jesse Tabish’s drowsy vocals.
Even though Other Lives comes from a pit of bands with similar music, they are still set apart, set countless football fields apart, because they still sound of unchartered territory. They are still mysterious and appear untouched. Vocals won’t appeal to many and their live performance has been deemed disappointing, but if you are a lover of beautiful music, then Tamer Animals will live with you for a long, long time.