by Patrick Pilch (@pratprilch)
It’s been two years since Shady Bug’s buzzing debut tbh idk. Since then, the St. Louis quartet has refined their fuzzy, intricate cross between bedroom guitar pop and pummeling post-hardcore for their Exploding in Sound debut. Lemon Lime matches its titular inspiration; the album’s tunes represent an even greater contrast between Shady Bug’s members, influences and arrangements. The record is a massive leap forward for what began as Hannah Rainey’s post-Dubb Nubb solo pursuit. On Shady Bug’s sophomore LP, Rainey’s songwriting is tight, personal and brimming with excitement. Each track is dense and digressive, stitched together by the law of opposites.
Shady Bug’s signature tempo shifts juxtapose giddiness with austerity, balancing the perfect mix of bubbly guitar pop and searing noise rock. Verses serve as light prefaces to the roaring chorus of Lemon Lime’s crushing opener “Make It Up.” Tom Krenniing’s guitars bark in offbeat anticipation, building tension between a band fully distorted and shifting tone in the chorus’ tight melodic soundspace. Todd Anderson’s grumbling bass sits in the song’s underbelly, brilliantly converging with Hannah Rainey’s earworming croons. What starts as a simple crush, “Make It Up” turns into serious self-reflection into one’s own insecurities and ceaseless environmental anxiety.
The upbeat pep of “Lucky” evolves into a slow burning preface to Rainey’s intoxicating solo sprint toward the finish. The band meet their vocalist halfway with a slick drum passage and twinkling arpeggios, cranking it back up to 11 before putting a bow on things with a riff reprise. Lemon Lime’s dizzying spark gleams within the inescapable conclusion of “Lucky” and later on the explosive, double-timed conclusions of “Spooky” and “Lost My Head.”
Half the songs on Shady Bug’s debut were written for Hannah Rainey’s solo project, the other half were born out of the musician’s tinkering with their roommate’s chorus pedal. Lemon Lime feels like the first deliberate Shady Bug release. It’s more defined: Rainey’s vision of a rock band brought to life by winding arrangements, clever songwriting and gripping hooks. There’s no hiding it - sweet and sour is the play for Lemon Lime, an album that basks in its own brilliant contradictions.