Review Summary: Its mission is to pep you up, no its to bring you down. Actually who knows what it wants.
It can often be the case in the musical field that a band or songs message can be completely obscured or decoyed by its delivery. Springsteen’s Born in The USA’s lament of the scars left on a man by the Vietnam War often finds itself cast aside in favour of the jingoistic fist pump delivery of the chorus. The High tempo dance beat of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” consigned the sexualised lyrical battering ram to such digestible levels that it was recently used in a family friendly Virgin Atlantic advertisement campaign. And of course there was the old classic of the Red House Painters song “Whop-A-Din-Din” failing to mention its loving serenade was being delivered to a cat.........although I might have been the only one to miss that.
This lesson is one that cannot be avoided when you listen to one of the highlights off the debut album by Lilly Wood & the Prick, the innocuously titled “Down the Drain”. The upbeat indie delivery and sparsely used electronics is used to give us such lyrical sunshine rays like
Break me off, tie me down, tear me down
Make me feel like a little dog
Why don't you rape me now, when you hit me now
Make me feel like I'm nothing at all
Well thanks for that Lilly and the unpleasant companion you’ve just made my attempts to bound along with the peppy rhythm that much harder. It’s akin to The Raveonettes ode to the mental scars left by rapists “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)". You get pulled in by the structure and then slapped silly by the less then happy message.
Indeed this seems to the albums Modus operandi. It alternates between ridiculously catchy indie pop with songs like “My Best” (with a background beat that recalls Phoenix) and “Hey It’s OK” to the more folk grounded “Cover My Face” and “Hymn to my Invisible Friend”, all the while keeping an undercurrent of Melancholy, or in the case of “Hopeless Kids” borderline Nihilism. It’s like somebody grabbed Amy McDonald and demanded she make an album about the decline of the Scottish shipbuilding industry while keeping her welcoming stylings.
The front woman meanwhile Nili Hadida sounds like she is channelling Cat Power via Lilly Allen with 30% less Country Music twang. Her delivery and style is more prominent the further into the album one goes, the poppier instrumental favoured numbers are more front-loaded so the second half really is the showcase of vocal prowess which Hadida has more then a capable amount of.
If you wanted to nail down what flavour of folk runs through this you can safely go for it being of the distinctly French variety as is befitting their origin. If this area of the sound had physical presence it would likely be wearing a beret while smoking Gauloises.
Among all the deceptive bounciness one or two clunkers can be found however. The cover version of the Santigold song "L.E.S. Artistes" feels anaemic and sparse compared to the original while album closer “Go Slow” is as befitting its name a turgid non starter and could have easily been left off. (The Special Edition Ends with “This Is a Love Song” which amazingly did not have any sly messages of discontentment, could be why it’s not on the regular CD, it would interfere with the confusing mood.)
To sum up one could finish on the second track No No (Kids). You tap along to the Marina and the Diamondesque beat but you cannot avoid the message .
No I Don’t Want No Kids They Cry At Night
They Smell So Bad
No House, No I Don’t Want No House
No Life, I want to Die Right Now.
Actually Lilly Wood & The Prick You’re Prickish ways will not deter me this time. Fist Pump at the ready!
No No (Kids)
Down The Drain