Lilys – Selected EP

Selected EP

Wow. Although this is merely a five song EP, I’m floored, thrilled, and converted. I also wonder how it is that I didn’t know about these guys long ago; major cool points lost there. I feel that if I describe the sound, it won’t be adequate, but since reviewing this here record is my job, I’ll try. Imagine Kevin Shields applying the My Bloody Valentine treatment to early REM-styled pop music, and you’re starting to get the idea. Although Lilys can’t be credited with writing the book on this sound, they’ve sure as hell contributed a quality chapter.
The listener’s perspective is bent and stretched all over the place on the songs contained here. An illustration: The first time I listened to this record was at the office. The first track began, “The Any Several Sundays,” on which the guitars and backing band sound quite similar to the Byrds, except for one aspect: the vocals are mixed very low. It was clear that there was a good melody going on, but it was tough to make out over the clatter of the music. Subconsciously, I still expected to hear the Byrds, who emphasize their vocals over the band. So, I slowly cranked up the volume, and finally I heard the vocal harmonies my ears wanted to hear, delicately tucked underneath, with strange, muffled effects applied. Very cool. However, what I had forgotten was that the backing track had been turned up quite loud, which caused me to be reprimanded by my boss. Even cooler! The song put me in such a blissful mood that if I got fired at that moment, I wouldn’t have cared too much. Now that’s rock and roll!
This is a neat trick that creates the aural illusion of volume (taken to an extreme by My Bloody Valentine). Since you have a volume knob on the stereo, you can make things as loud or quiet as you’d like, unless the artist makes it hard to hear certain parts without having the other parts too loud. Listen to David Bowie’s mix of Raw Power – everything sounds fairly in-place, although at a low level, until the lead guitar parts come in, and when they do they seem larger than life. As for Lilys’ songs here, (which is to say, Kurt Heasley’s songs, since he is the band’s songwriter/guru), which occasionally bring to mind the Kinks, the Yardbirds, and even the Beatles, the sound treatment removes the possibility of sounding dated. The “Shields Method,” when applied to an electric 12-string guitar and other instruments that leave a “classic” taste in your mouth, the old sounds new again, as if, in visual terms, these songs are photo negatives of their influences.
All in all, Selected is a great collection of songs. Now, if you’ll excuse me, its time I got a clue; I’m off to hunt down their back catalog.