Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Judah and The Lion – Take It All Back

Please do.


Alfred Soto: No, it does not feel nice when people sing along to the banjo.

Joshua Copperman: This song has a history fitting its bizarre structure and production; originally released in mid-2016, it became a sleeper hit on alternative rock radio, reaching #1 on that chart in January, coupled with a more radio-friendly edit. Then, while a follow-up is being pushed, Top 40 inexplicably began to pick up on it, perhaps foreshadowing a “Feel It Still”-type crossover. The song has since disappeared from Top 40’s charts, seemingly forgotten about just when it was about to blow up. Meanwhile, in its “2.0” form, the song also has a slow beginning, then inexplicably crescendos into a pre-Wilder-Mind Mumford & Sons song before returning to that weirdly Eminem-sounding chorus, this time with busy but muffled drums. If that analogy seems like a stretch, so is the idea that this would all work as a song.

Mo Kim: The last thing I wanted to hear in this, the inaugural year of our Presidential Turdness, is Imagine Dragons with laryngitis, but here we are. Five points for the speed-up, when the song gets good, and negative three points for the Pillsbury Swoleboy yelping “they dancing along to the man-DOUGH and some sort of HEP-HAP BEYT.”

Nortey Dowuona: The drums run fleet footed while the bass barely upticks a little, and the mandolin and banjo ride through the song as if carried by giant waves.

Will Adams: The album is called Folk Hop n’ Roll, which is a more succinct summary of this stagnant hodgepodge of alternative radio’s worst features than I could ever dream up.

Alex Clifton: God, this takes the worst parts of Imagine Dragons and mixes them with the more generic direction Mumford & Sons took after their second album. The main mandolin riff is admittedly catchy (I’m a sucker for mandolins) but becomes stale after one listen. I appreciate what Judah and the Lion are trying to do, mixing folk and hip-hop and arena rock, but in order to mix genres you’ve got to have a good grasp on all the materials you’re working with; they’re halfway there on some fronts, but haven’t really made it all the way. The folky elements are serviceable if a bit generic, but Judah Akers’s self-referential “raps” aren’t attention-grabbing, and his singing is soulless. Throw in a meaningless breakdown towards the end, and this song is a mess.

Rebecca A. Gowns: In trying to please everyone and hit every demographic, they’ve made a commercial pop monstrosity: a pyre of banjos built on a beat made of twigs, a man trudging through sing-song spoken word verses like it’s a book report, a chorus shout that’s supposed to sound anthemic but sounds more like a tired restaurant host squeezing out one more ounce of customer service energy at the end of his shift. We all know commercial music is a sham, but laid bare like this, it’s a bit depressing.

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