April 6, 2014 by Dan Swinhoe
For years Lionize had carved themselves a nice little niche. A small but dedicated fanbase that lapped up their unique brand of ‘Boogie Dub,’ Clutch boogie with Reggae sounds and the odd smattering of rock. And it led to some cracking records. 2011’s Superczar and the Vulture was and still is fantastic. But times change, and so too do our favourite bands, whether we want them to or not.
Made up of Nate Bergman (vocals & guitar), Chris Brooks (keyboards & vocals), and Henry Upton (bass & vocals), these Maryland-based rockers are five albums into their career and look to be really trying to breakthrough to a wider audience this time round. For one the Clutch links are even more obvious than on previous records; JPST was Produced by Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and Machine (best known for his work with Clutch’s mighty Blast Tyrant), which can only help their profile. And second the music is far slicker.
All the elements are still in place, but they’ve tried to push everything up a notch. Take ‘Breather’ there’s still plenty of funk, but with more melody, more guitars, and the whole thing is just slicker than the rough-around-edges-but-appealing early albums. ‘Evolve’ is more of a hard rocker, with its seventies rock intro galloping riffs and synths that lead into a song with less funk and more of a hard edge. Leading single ‘Reality Check’ is a well-polished melodic number that sticks in the head for days.
The only bad thing to say about the album is that there a few forgettable ‘Lionize by numbers’ tracks. ‘Electric Reckoning’ and ‘Lazarus Style’ fall under this category. They’re not bad, they’ve still got all the elements of a good song and played with plenty of energy, but leave little impression once they’re gone.
There are still plenty of gems, however. The title track perfectly mixes space rock with a soulful boogie and a soaring chorus, and it’s hard not to dance along. Lionize are seriously good at making feel good music that infects the body and give you the desire to move, and that’s exactly what good rock bands should do. Other highlights include the southern-fried ‘Replaced By Machines’ and the cowbell-filled ‘Skynet’. As ever, Nate’s lyrics are a highlight throughout. Micro Machines, Dinosaurs and Rachel Green all make an appearance. ‘Amazing Science Facts’ is an excellent little number, full of lyrical gold such as “Did you know Alex Jones grows his own food at home without GMOs, wow what a guy.”
Jetpack Soundtrack is a quality record. Perhaps not as listenable as Superzcar or Destruction Manual simply because the songs aren’t quite as memorable, but there’s nothing bad on here. And Even if it’s still not an improvement on what’s gone before, Lionize still occupy their own musical sphere that sets them apart in a genre of one.