Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cleverness Is The Salvation And Downfall Of The Fight!

The Good: Great lyrics, Some very catchy songs, Good vocal range/variety
The Bad: Way too many remixes of "Middle Of The Night, Some overproduced instrumental accompaniment
The Basics: Lilly Wood And The Prick’s sophomore album, The Fight is smartly-written, angsty and engaging . . . when it is not hampered by a nauseating number of remixes of its lead single!

It is an exceptionally rare thing that I ever go back and re-review an album or , honestly, anything else I have reviewed. The reason for this is simple; I have no interest in spending my life second guessing myself. With music this is especially true and I work hard to give each album I get in - a fair listen, usually listening to each album eight times before I sit down to review it. There are rare occasions where I come to appreciate an album even more over time. That is certainly what happened with the Lilly Wood And The Prick album Invincible Friends (reviewed here!). I've been listening to it a lot lately and I've had their cover of "L.E.S. Artistes" in my head for days (it even encouraged me to look up the original!). I would probably rate that album higher than a 7/10 if I were reviewing it now.

Invincible Friends was more than enough to make me want to pick up another Lilly Wood And The Prick album and give it a fair shake. After listening to the Deluxe version of their sophomore album The Fight, it's pretty clear that regardless of how many (or few) charting hits the group hands, creatively Lilly Wood And The Prick is anything but a one-hit wonder. My long-term reaction to Invincible Friends made me concerned that I would be too harsh on The Fight; now, I'm concerned I liked the writing on it so much that I'm excusing some lacks of musical imagination on the second album. Regardless, the deluxe version of The Fight has much to recommend it.

With eighteen tracks (twelve songs, with six remixes - four of which are of "Middle Of The Night")and 75 minutes of music, The Fight is very much the work of the duo Lilly Wood And The Prick. The band wrote and composed all of the original songs and while other remixed three of the songs and those remixes are included on the deluxe version of The Fight, the source material is all the creation of Lilly Wood And The Prick!

The Fight is a fairly angsty album, even if it seldom sounds like it with its upbeat guitars and synths. The album opens with "Where I Want To Be (California)," which is an up-tempo dance-pop song. The songs continue to be dominated by synths, drum machines and bass (?). In many ways, The Fight is a generic dance-pop album from the instrumental accompaniment. Perhaps, that is why the innumerable (okay, four) remixes of "Middle Of The Night" are so upsetting; the original is a pretty droll dance number and the musical accompaniment sounds like a variation of the music composed for the video game Super Mario Bros.. Oddly, though, while the music is not bad - and "Where I Want To Be (California)" is a distinctive opening to The Fight - it just sounds like occasionally more produced than one guy on a single keyboard. The most distinctive piece is actually the remix of "Where I Want To Be (California" because of the unsettling beat pattern. Arguably because the original opens the album so well, the additional - and off-beat, literally - percussion in the remix raises the hairs on the back of my neck and arms every time.

Vocally, Lilly Wood And The Prick sounds very distinctly like the vocals of lead singer Nili Hadida. Hadida has a pretty distinctive voice that occupies the middle registers, seldom going higher, save on the repetitive refrain in "Le Mas." On "Long Way Back," she sounds like Stevie Nicks or Blondie, but the rest of the time, she has a sweet, clear voice that is distinctly her own. None of the tracks on The Fight are distinctly vocally-dominated the way, for example, "Little Johnny" or "Prayer In C" were on Invincible Friends. The Fight is hampered by repetition on several songs like "Le Mas" and "Mistakes."

The Fight is an album of intense disillusionment and the reason it scores so high instantly with me is that it is so damn clever. The lyrics on The Fight are meaningful, cerebral, and deep. Take, for example, the lines "There was a man last week he tried to save me from myself, / But there was nothing he could do. / I force myself to attend all the family things but I feel lost. / Boy, they promise you it's all gonna be fine when you turn 25. / But it's not. / Give me back my youth, my strength, my happiness. / Doctor fill me my meals with pills so I can get on with myself." ("Joni Mitchell"); it is clear Lilly Wood And The Prick have something to say!

The song that caught me on each listen was "Long Way Back." "Long Way Back" is a brilliant song that explores relationships and self-sufficiency with lines like "I got no plan to fix / All of your problems / Man oh man don't get / On my nerves like that / And why is it that everybody thinks / we're gone be alright." The clever aspect of "Long Way Back" is how the poetics of the words of the refrain blend with the music; after saying everything she has to sing, the instrumental accompaniment goes on for a while, illustrating with the musical accompaniment what the lines are saying.

The Fight is not an easy album, though. It is an album about disillusionment and disappointment. While songs like "No Mark" are explicitly about disappointment, many of the other tracks are more subtle or use more imagery to express the album's themes. When the lines "Like a devil in disguise they say. / I won't make fake promises to you he said / I won't lie all the time like mothers and fathers do / Won't make it all good just for you he said / Better learn to cope before / It gets too hard on you" ("Briquet") are sung, it is hard not to be pounded by the sense that the musical protagonist has been constantly let down.

Ultimately, The Fight is a good depression album . . . that sounds like a dance album. It's a clever dichotomy, but that's the essence of The Fight; it's deceptive, clever, and that makes for an intriguing album, even when it is repetitive.

The best track is "Long Way Back," the weak point is one of the remixes of "Middle Of The Night," but they've all started to blend together in my mind so I'm not going to pick one.

For other worthwhile sophomore albums, please visit my reviews of:
Eveningland - Hem
When The Pawn . . . - Fiona Apple
Whaler - Sophie B. Hawkins


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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