Album review: "Tamer Animals"
Stillwater, Okla., is the home of Other Lives, and “Tamer Animals” reflects the band’s strong connection to the Great Plains.
The band’s latest album is a metaphor for place, an impressionistic collection of songs filled with sonic allusions to the band’s environment. And like the plains, the tracks are expansive; this isn’t an album of hooks.
There is a deep emotional force at play on “Tamer Animals,” and one recurring theme of singer Jess Tabish’s lyrics is the relationship between man and nature.
Other Lives explores the hardship endured by both parties through the expanse of the distant horns and galloping percussion on “Dark Horse” and “For 12”; the country-western guitars of “Old Statues”; the thunderous roll of the timpani on “As I Lay My Head Down”; and the shrill strings and horns in “Weather.”
In “Woodwind,” Tabish’s voice fades into the woodwinds and strings, as if swept away by a mighty gust. And “Dust Bowl III” conjures images of an isolated plain dotted with abandoned farms and schoolhouses from a once-prosperous era.
The waves of sound build to a sudden climax as Tabish sings: “The skyline has not been seen for many days / It feels as though we’re never coming back here again.”
— Benjamin Opipari, June 10, 2011