Following self-released 2013 EP Scout, Petal has finally released their debut Shame, an album that wears its heart on its sleeve, is packed with genuine lyrics, and boasts an honest sound. There is a feeling of melancholia which travels throughout the album, as Kiley Lotz’s sweet vocals get caught up in personal reflection in opening track ‘Camera Lens’ and similarly on closer ‘Silly Heart’, a contemplation of her romantic choices. The cast of band members switch from album to album, but this time Lotz is accompanied by Tigers Jaw’s Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins. The band’s sound is echoed in the debut, yet the flowing and tender vocals give it a different feel entirely as McIlwee’s grittiness is exchanged for euphonious undertones.
The guitars are kept simple and mellow in order not to intrude on the soft melodies, as everything here is written to compliment a feeling, rather than for musical experimentation. Perhaps the sound is almost too undemanding at times, lacking the depth such a sentimental album may usually possess, missing out on the opportunity for the instruments to echo the feeling of the vocals in order to enhance the effect on a listener. However, this simplicity can be welcomed too, in gentle acoustic tracks such as ‘Feel’, and in the effortless ‘Nature’ which has sweet harmonies accompanied solely by bass drum and floor tom, boasting the power of words.
‘Silly Heart’ may have worked more successfully as an acoustic track, capturing the sincerity of heartbreaking lyrics like “I’ve counted it a couple hundred times, as you lay sleeping I lay terrified”. Yet, this forlorn and wistful lyricism consistently both calls and answers as “please don’t leave sooner than you have to” in ‘Sooner’ echoes Lotz’s juxtaposing feelings of needing both love and freedom from its suffering, exposing the listener to the war between head and heart.