Wild creatures are often fueled by force of habit, and the same applies to the Paper Lions, a recent merger from two other punk bands (Some Soviet Station and At the Price of the Union). So it's no surprise that this Atlanta quartet sticks to the form on its debut, The Symptom and the Sick. Asymmetrical rhythms and jangling guitars propel songs like "My Hive," which comes across like Interpol on Prozac. Concurrently, Jesse Smith's yelping vocals on "Money Blanket" can be as annoying as the ankle-biting Chihuahua next door. But while the Paper Lions' playful musical approach may help them prance around like a feline on catnip, lyrics like "What a thing to force on a child/Rope burns on wrists and ankles" ("He Commands Commandments") squarely place them in the Angry Young Man category.
The band induces an uptempo sugar high with "Kinetic to Potential"'s guitar twang and snare-filled beats before finally slowing its pace on "Saints and Sinners." Yet after several listens the band's off-kilter style wears thin, especially on stillborn tracks like "City Limits" and "High Rise," the latter's watered-down bar rock giving you anything but. It's a mixed bag really. While the results of The Symptom and the Sick may not roar, they don't pussyfoot either.