Buffalo, NY’s Lemuria has been toting its catchy, scruffy ’90s-era indie power-pop since 2004, being consciously consistent by releasing material on split EPs and 7-inches throughout its six-year career. On Pebble, Lemuria’s sophomore effort (released via Boston-based Bridge Nine Records) and the follow-up to its 2008 debut Get Better, the band strips down and sheds its innocence.
Album opener “Gravity” sets a moody, almost ominous tone, where vocalist/guitarist Sheena Ozzella’s vocals are left feeling vulnerably exposed over minimal guitars, droning bass and quiet drums. “Wise People” churns the album forward with the same biting lyrical tone, but sugarcoats things slightly as Ozzella cheerfully declares, “because I mind, and I certainly matter/unlike you, I have time to think ways up to take you down.”
Drummer/vocalist Alex Kerns delivers on “Pleaser,” both behind the drums and on supporting, monotonous harmonies, and carries his own weight with songs like “Yellowstone Lady” and “Different Girls.” The latter is a bold-faced lie to a lover about his (lack of) infidelity while on tour, with Ozzella playfully teasing, “It’s in your imagination, of course.”
Production by J. Robbins (Jawbreaker, Against Me!) ensures that the guitars and bass are fuzzed-out but clear, the songs are crunchy but clean and that Ozzella and Kerns’ dual vocals function on a left-brain/right-brain level. When one steps back, the other shines, and songs like “Ribcage,” “Chautauqua County” and “The One” find balance between the two. With Pebble, Lemuria strikes a balance with an album that’s just as bitter as it is sweet, trading its youthful optimism for an older, and wiser, outlook.