Bassist Nate Mendel has played with Foo Fighters and Sunny Day Real Estate, two major powerhouses in the alternative rock scene. He has since branched out and created a side project, known simply as Lieutenant. If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week sees him on vocals, experimenting with a wide range of genres, and receiving help from various members of Snow Patrol, The Bronx, Helmet, and Fleet Foxes.
If I Kill This… starts with “Belle Epoque,” a standard indie jam with several layers of simple instrumentation, creating a large, complex sound; auxiliary percussion, as well as piano and synth licks give it the backbone of a new wave anthem and increase its pop single stylings. “The Place You Wanna Go” meshes the crunchiness of stoner rock guitar and bass with a hybrid Americana organ sound not unlike something in The Killers’ repertoire. “Believe The Squalor” is purely psychedelic, highlighted by guitars wet with reverb and on point vocal harmonies, while “Rattled” is a fast-paced, high-energy power pop tune that’ll make you want to get up and dance.
While the second half of the album is far more mellow than the first batch of songs, it’s not without its heavy hitters, one of which being “Sink Sand,” a mid-tempo hipster’s dream of a track. Vocal harmonies, chromaticism, crunchy bass over acoustic guitars, heavy syncopation, and horns turn the atmospheric lull into a musical party. It’s definitely experimental in regards to the rest of If I Kill This…, and ironically enough, it might just have the most capacity to be a hit radio single.
Much like other artists of this generation, Lieutenant’s final track is the strongest, combining all of his previous musical influences. “Lift The Sheet” combines tremolo/reverb-heavy atmospheres with post-rock drums and vocals, while weaving ideas from the previous eight selections into the sonic quilt. It’s dark, and quite honestly the farthest thing from Sunny Day Real Estate or Foo Fighters one can imagine. Of all the songs on this album, it’s truly in this one that Nate Mendel solidifies himself as his own musician.
Emo. Indie. Power pop. Alternative. All of these can be used to describe Lieutenant, although those only scratch the surface of what Mendel’s accomplished in these nine tracks. He takes the best parts of Weezer, Modest Mouse, and Ludo, and throws in hints of The Smiths and Chris Martin for an album that’s tighter than a pair of skinny jeans. If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week sets the bar high and proves that Lieutenant’s here to kick ass and take names.