Both musically and lyrically, Songs The Animals Taught Us sounds like the work of an artist who has basically absorbed inspiration from a wide variety of different sources and spat them out the other side as something unique. The electronic-tinged pop calls to mind artists like Xiu Xiu (the more gentle side of the group) and Patrick Wolf (with a slightly less dramatic vocal style) while lyrically capturing the frustration and confusion of living in the modern age.
The first release from Roommate was the Celebs EP, a hit-or-miss affair focused both seriously and sarcastically on the life of famous people, but this newest full length is a big step up in all areas. That first release found singer/songwriter Kent Lambert creating things largely himself, but on this newest effort he's been joined by a bunch of friends on a variety of instruments. "Tuesday" opens the album and couples sparse, synth-glinted programming with deflating lines like, 'The war will start on Monday / We will watch TV" that seem to almost perfectly fit the resigned feel of observing your country moving in a different direction than you'd hoped for.
"Fairgrounds" picks up right where it left off and is even more successful as Lambert somehow manages to fit banjo, odd sound effects, and a haunting singing saw backdrop into a track that starts out in glitch-pop land before dropping off into a country-tinged second half that features subtle instrumentation and a couple glorious swells. "Typhoon" is the album centerpiece in more ways than one, as blistering, almost M83-sounding synth squalls blur over the top of alternately stark and almost head-spinning arrangements. Lyrically, the track is just as varied, tying together stream of consciousness lines that pull together everything from trashy magazines to the apocalypse and finally true love.
There are places where the album isn't quite as effective, as on the short "War Talk" (which is already better covered in other songs), but for the most part the album is an inventive batch of sometimes disparate sounds that Lambert somehow manages to make work. "Hollis (Hope To Come Back)" is a perfect example, closing the album with sort of a baroque electronic orchestral pop track that morphs into a hazy drone. With ten tracks running a brisk forty one minutes, Songs The Animals Taught Us is an inventive and interesting release from a young artist.