Like Lions: ‘Older’ – modern pop-perfectionism

Like Lions is the solo project of Seattle-based singer, songwriter, and producer Patrick O’Neill. Alongside Seattle Ben Kersten, the project released the full-length ‘All Be Fine’, which led to the Like Lions moniker being maintained, and O’Neill rapidly releasing solo-produced EPs ‘Baby For Days’ and ‘Hello Ghosts’ over a two-year span, under the same name. Through 2015-2016 he decided to take a hiatus from creating new music, focusing on his education at Berklee School of Music. To celebrate O’Neill’s 30th birthday, Like Lions released the single ‘Older’, during April this year. The song will be part of his upcoming project, “An Aging Millennial”.

Patrick O’Neill
Patrick O’Neill

The more you listen to ‘Older’ the better it gets. It’s smooth and slick from the first listen, with a strong head-nodding beat, and an ear-warming melody. The musical imagination is both classic sounding, with thick retro synths, and a progression into modern pop-perfectionism.

You know what you’re going to get right from the opening bar, but like anything Like Lion does, it has a unique twist that makes the song stand out. Patrick O’Neill is a wizard in the recording studio. His talents are limitless.

Yet he never goes overboard with instrumental multi-layering, or gimmicky effects, it’s more about the right sounds he chooses to include in his beat. “For production and instrumentation, I take a lot of inspiration from Bon Iver, the Flaming Lips, and hip-hop greats like Dr. Dre and Kanye,” says the Spokane native. “Lyrically, I try to make songs that relate to a large audience.”

All of which blend seamlessly into his kaleidoscopic music arrangements. Melodically addictive, the more you listen, the more O’Neill’s craftsmanship and brilliantly insightful lyrics are revealed.

If you don’t feel like pop has anything interesting to offer…you’re wrong. There are some fresh things, with substance, happening out there, and ‘Older’ is one of them. Pop in general does suffer from the tendency to be over produced and generic in its sound. However, Like Lions puts a beautiful spin on things, with his own personal sonic blend.

The single cover

It does help of course, that he has a heartwarming voice and an excellent vocal range to inject dynamism and emotion into his songs. This adds to an already winning formula on ‘Older’, which together with the music, creates the all-embracing atmosphere that purveys the song. The song actually makes a certain kind of sense. O’Neill is getting older, so his sensibilities now make for an even more relevant listen.

Furthermore ‘Older’ feels like the type of track you make, when you allow yourself to create whatever music you want, a sort of freedom you might not have with the anxieties of a twenty year old. Sure, being thirty, brings another set of uneasy symptoms, but its more about reflection than it is about disdain and its derivatives.

And it’s this melodic-styled reflection on ‘Older’ that’s so captivating to the ear, and to the heart. Especially if you’ve been there, like I have.  The lyrics explore personal and existential questions that are easy to relate to.

As a music listener, some days you just need mind-feeding ear candy. So it’s a good thing that Like Lions was ready to deliver ‘Older’. He didn’t just haphazardly toss a multitude of sounds and lyrics together, instead he injected his newfound maturity into his latest composition, and it shows in the best way possible!


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