Genre-bending is probably the easiest way to describe Belmont alum Judah & the Lion’s second album, “Folk Hop ‘N Roll.”
At times, however, it can be a bit more difficult to describe.
“It’s a rule-breaking record, with Judah & the Lion creating a sound that belongs entirely to them,” states the band’s website.
Well, yes and no.
“Folk Hop ‘N Roll” feels like Judah & the Lion had 50 different ideas they wanted to use and instead of honing in on just a few of them, they threw all of them into the mix of 10 songs.
It simply feels disjointed.
Let’s start from the beginning. The first song on the album, “Graffiti Dreams,” reminded me heavily of Manchester Orchestra’s latest album. Lead singer Judah Akers’ voice echoes vibrantly throughout the entire song, just like Andy Hull’s of Manchester.
The the banjo kicks in and you remember this is a folk band you are listening to, not an alternative punk band. It’s not a bad thing, there are just a few different vibes going on throughout the song. Folk, alternative rock and electronica combine for an odd mix.
And that’s something that comes up time and time again through the entire album. “Folk-Hop Sound” further proves that point. The beginning of the song is something you would hear on a Top-40 station. More echoes and electronic beats are still confusing, especially once the banjo comes in the background.
Then, out of seemingly nowhere, hip-hop comes into play.
It’s not that the hip-hop portions of the album are bad– they are relatively decent– but they just feel out of place. They come in the middle of a song after the banjo or weird electronic bits.
The song after, “All I Want Is You” is predominantly banjo and has a completely different vibe than the previous songs on the album. It is slow and just doesn’t fit, especially where it sits on the album.
Unfortunately, the changes don’t stop there.
“Reputation” makes you feel like you are listening to a Beastie Boys song.
Thirty years ago it may have worked. Now, not so much.
The rest of the album includes more odd electronica mixed with banjos and a random sound effect here and there.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe Judah & the Lion has the potential to be an enormously popular band. They have many good things nailed down; Catchy melodies and some well written lyrics prove Judah & the Lion know what they are doing.
I just don’t think this is the album to get them that fame.