Tigers Can Bite You - Steve Ward Hears Voices
Record Label: New and Used Records
Release Date: October 28, 2008
Although Tigers Can Bite You received their first national press being voted one of the 100 worst named bands of 2007 (The Onion), they have since received high praise for their minimalist electronic/indie style employed on Steve Ward Hears Voices. In the vein of indie rock giants Death Cab for Cutie, Tigers Can Bite You deliver a fresh approach to the indie rock genre by straying away from the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure and by meshing subtle electronic instruments into the indie style.
“Opener” begins Steve Ward Hears Voices by building up piece by piece. Guitars come in over a background of fuzzy interference, shortly followed by drums and bass, and the listener can quickly grasp the minimalist approach Tigers Can Bite You are becoming known for. The word "synergy" comes to mind, in that separately the guitar and keyboard parts would sound pretty simple, but when arranged together they combine for some truly awesome music. The vocals are reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie, with a smooth tone and consistently faultless pitch alterations, but sound slightly softer and thus blend in with the subtle electronics extremely well. “Taking and Running Away” features a little more intricate guitar work than “Opener”, and has an extremely groovy feel (a bit like some These Arms are Snakes’ material). “Colleagues” contains more indie style guitar parts over a background of soft keys, and is one of the few tracks on the CD with some structure/repeated parts. “Chinese Checkers” is a slower paced track, and I know this may seem like a strange comparison, but it had me thinking of Between the Buried and Me at their softer moments (see Alaska – “Backwards Marathon” at 3:15, you’ll see what I mean).
The title track of the album, “Steve Ward Hears Voices”, is led by some catchy synth and keyboard work, and the addition of some subtle clapping helps bring out the catchiness of the drum beat. “(visits)” is a short track(:57) of just drums and a keyboard jamming, with some inaudible spacey vocals over top of the mix. Maybe these are the voices Steve Ward keeps hearing? The longest track on the album, “The Wilding” (4:27), follows the auditory-hallucination-like interlude with more groovy electro/indie, and some much welcomed shaker percussion spices things up a bit. “Anecdotes” has to be my favorite track on Steve Ward Hears Voices, with a heavier drumbeat and some perfectly blended guitar and synth work. “Checkmate” combines Tigers Can Bite You’s softer guitar and keyboard styles with some aggressive percussion, adding some nice variety to the album. The album's closer, “Second Nature”, is slightly faster paced than the other tracks, and also features some higher pitched vocals which add extra intensity to this last track.
Tigers Can Bite You use free flowing song structures and shorter song lengths to draw the listener in from start to finish, making Steve Ward Hears Voices an album you’ll listen to all the way through, time and time again. The indie rock guitars are blended perfectly with subtle electronic textures and synth patterns, and the spacey vocals and thought provoking lyrics help provide extra depth to the sea of ambient instrumentals. To finish, Steve Ward Hears Voices is a very solid release from an extremely talented up-and-coming band. Now go tell all your friends about them, so when they blow up you can say, “I told you tigers can bite you...”