Amidst recording Sonic Highways with the Foo Fighters and touring the world to promote it, bassist Nate Mendel has found time to form a new band called Lieutenant, whose debut album If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week released on March 10, 2015, via Dine Alone Records. I was curious to see what kind of a sound the band would have since the album features a diverse range of guest appearances from artists such as Page Hamilton (Helmet), Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), Josiah Johnson (Head and the Heart), Joe Plumber (Modest Mouse) and Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate). I was in for a pleasant surprise since I was expecting something along the lines of either Foo Fighters or Sunny Day Real Estate, but Lieutenant sounds completely different than both of them. I think the best way to categorize Lieutenant would be as a mix of alt rock and indie rock. Almost like a cross between Snow Patrol, Coldplay, and Keane. The sound is not completely unique, but Nate Mendel’s heartfelt delivery makes the songs stand out.
Nate Mendel might be a bassist, but after listening to the evidence on hand, it is clear that he has what it takes to be a frontman. His voice is soulful, pleasing and raspy at the same time, and he sounds a bit like Chris Martin of Coldplay, but in a positive way with a different style of singing. One criticism I have is that maybe due to his style of singing or the production, though I believe it’s the former, some of the lyrics are very hard to discern, and sometimes I had to try very hard to make out the lyrics. If this was done intentionally to achieve a specific sound, then may have been a misstep because the lyrics are bittersweet and deal with complex, yet everyday emotions. “The place that you wanna go / it’s a little far along right now / you dig your heels in right now / things are gonna get slow , slow down / perhaps everything will be alright / everything will be alright.”
“The Place You Wanna Go” was my favorite track off the album. It has a simple happy groove to it that is infectious and makes you want to sing along. The choruses of the entire album, and with this song in particular, are very catchy. Another notable track was “Sink Sand,” an electric guitar driven indie tune that has some excellent trumpet parts accompanying it. The album also has some blues and funk influenced sections hidden throughout.
Without the keys, the band would not sound as good and as complete as they do on this record; they round out the song very well and complete the sonic atmosphere. I hate keys that overshadow the song and sound out of place, rather than enhancing the sound, but here they augment the quirky, fun nature of the band’s sound, especially on the track “Prepared Remarks.” The guitar parts are done well and layered nicely throughout the album.
The songs seem like they could fit right into the OST of the movie Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist and that is not so much a criticism of the band as it is more of an indication of what their tracks sound like. Really the biggest criticism I have is that at times it is very hard to make out what Nate Mendel is singing. That and most of the songs have a very similar tempo, so the album could have done with some variety.
On the whole, If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week has some very pleasing and charming numbers mixed with some slightly generic pieces. However, it has enough things going for it that makes me want to keep an eye on the band from now on. Lieutenant is a very cool band and they will likely only get better with time.