Review Summary: Liquor sounds inviting, but there’s nothing inside worth staying for.
Lydia’s career since Illuminate
has been a struggle to recapture the magic of that precise moment in time; it was a beautiful and emotional magnum opus that seemingly captured lightning in a bottle. That isn’t to say that the band has not witnessed success since – in fact, they’ve been far more consistent than they probably get credit for. Paint it Golden
strived to be what Illuminate
was and fell just short, Devil
was a melodic approximation of all things joyful, and Run Wild
was a mild let down that had a handful of gems if you afforded the album time to grow. At their worst, any of those albums could only have been deemed a comparative disappointment when held against the standard-bearing light reflecting off Illuminate
. For the first time though, it appears that Lydia has released an album that is precisely average.
has been finely pressed, coated with the sleekest production and tune sense. Sonically, it has a lot going for it – and songs like ‘Red Lights’ prove that they haven’t lost their ability to craft an interesting melody that hasn’t been done to death. The problem is that Lydia used to engage their audience and connect with them – whether it was a heartbroken tour-de-force such as ‘I Woke Up Near the Sea’ or the gleeful, seize-the-summer aura of a track like ‘The Exit.’ The diminishing returns started to become felt on Run Wild
, admittedly, but here – sadly – it just feels like another day at the office. The band enters the studio, records ten sleek, twinkly indie tunes that check all the right boxes, and then calls it a day having invested no real emotion or purpose. That’s surely a bit harsh as there is always more to an album than what appears on the surface, but that’s how Liquor
There’s a noticeable shift towards pop elements on this record, which in itself wouldn’t be a detriment had it been more successful in executing the elements that cause indie-pop records to thrive. The choruses are not very memorable, for starters, and there’s nothing bold or different happening to warrant the occurrence of this bigger sound. As a result, it rings out like a hollow amalgamation of better days; a tribute to their former selves at best or rock bottom at worst, such as on the irritatingly simple and repetitive ‘Gypsy.’ In a lot of ways it’s unfair, because bands coming out of nowhere adopting this style of music do not face nearly as much scrutiny. That’s the plight of a band like Lydia though, one that has raised its own bar high enough to warrant disappointment from albums that other groups might consider an achievement.
The fact that Lydia can take a relatively average record and call it the worst in their entire discography should offer a glimmer of hope. While the band has been gradually trending towards a letdown like this, it is by no means representative of their usual body of work. Shying away from poppy, more accessible traits in search of more grit, fervor, and real emotion is the first step. They’ve never been a heavy band, but the feelings they evoked from listeners and espoused themselves certainly were. Liquor
sounds inviting, but there’s nothing inside worth staying for – and that’s a void that has to be filled in order for Lydia to capture our hearts once more.