Premiere: Big Little Lions Channel a Wish for Political Unity on “Unicorn”

Big Little Lions © Karen Pantuso
Big Little Lions © Karen Pantuso
Merging discomfort and calm, indie-folk band Big Little Lions proves to be a powerhouse of honesty and realism with new single “Unicorn.”

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Music is an art form, and as with any physical manifestation of art, it draws for social influence to create a perfect story. From lyrics to melody, parts of the ever-changing world can be found within its notes, and “Unicorn” by Big Little Lions may be one of the best representations of this.

Everybody wants a unicorn
To be unique but still belong
Waiting waiting with no patience
A hero who doesn’t want the fame
team member who won’t play the game
waiting waiting
so engaging
Watch: “Unicorn” – Big Little Lions

Atwood is proud to premiere “Unicorn,” a track which was created out of America’s political discomfort as, in the band’s view, the presidential election campaigns showed no sign of a positivity and unity.

“Unicorn” is a beautifully melodic track in the spirits of indie-folk. Its haunting vocals fill the audio to the brim, inviting listeners into a cozy, quaint, and powerful world it has crafted. The duo of Helen Austin and Paul Otten demand attention and trust in perfect unison, a combination utterly contradicting, but perfectly understood in their delivery. Think The Lumineers or Mumford and Sons if either band was made up of your very best friends: that’s the sound and warmth that Austin and Otten are in full control of. While making an intriguing political track, they have succeeded in fostering a sound of contentment and familiarity.

Wake me up when the world is sober
Tell me when this show is over
Alive and Well - Big Little Lions
Alive and Well – Big Little Lions

Wake me when the world is sober. Tell me when the show is over,” the track sings with pure emotion. To Austin and Otten, the very real concept of political confusion felt like fantasy.

That is when the word “unicorn” came to mind… because a perfect politician is a fantasy and almost an oxymoron of sorts,” said Austin. “There was also that feeling that we were watching a game show on a grand scale, and I just wanted the whole facade to be over and for the world to come to its senses and realize that we’re all in this together.”

The less they know the more they shout
watch the lies come slither out
hoping hoping each imploding
a madman tells us that he’s sane
while truth is quiet with distain
coping coping
watch them folding

The music video for “Unicorn” invokes a similar feeling. Visuals are common, yet uncomfortable: From a collage of video screens to army helicopters and a syringe, they show problems universally broadcasted on a political stage. The video is nearly anxiety-invoking, bringing together so many elements that raise questions and discomfort. It’s a plea for change and for a moment of peace, something little offered in a changing world of political disagreement.

Big Little Lions © Karen Pantuso
Big Little Lions © Karen Pantuso

The video was designed by Austin’s daughter, Daisy, who was influenced by the concept. “As a young person, she felt the gravity of the song and wanted to use destructive, pleading images to convey the lyrics,” said Austin. “She wanted a feeling of urgency that we get with the numbers ticking and almost an Orwellian “1984” feel with the multiple screens watching us.”

Uncovering all the ugliness
and try to tidy up the mess
then tell us that it’s more or less normal
We’re looking for humanity
while wading through this vanity
and the downright audacity is awful

Through the incredible discomfort and urgency of the topic, Big Little Lions still manages to create a perfectly calm, yet controlling sound. The demand for attention comes from the topic, while vocals are supporting and inspire hope. It’s the formula for an undeniably powerful duo: a couple that can write and deliver messages that matter all while fostering a charismatic and alluring sound. Through it, there’s no doubt Big Little Lions will continue to gain fans who appreciate both the lyrical honesty and realism mixed with haunting harmonies and nothing but soothing sounds.

“Unicorn” can be found on Alive and Well, Big Little Lion’s inviting and powerful third album, out Feb. 23 via Far Flung Records.

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Alive and Well - Big Little Lions

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? © Karen Pantuso

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