Albums, Music, The Revue — October 1, 2018 at 5:10 am

Lala Lala – ‘The Lamb’ (album review)

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“And I swear that I’m immortal / No one can prove it wrong”, Lillie West, the woman behind Lala Lala, sings on the somber “Scary Movie”. Despite the assertion, these lines are not a rebellious proclamation, but rather they reveal her vulnerable mindset in the midst of the turmoil inflicting her and those within her inner circles. They are also her rallying cry. The words that she needs to say and hear in order to overcome the loss of loved ones, the violation of her personal space following a home invasion, and the endless violence that surrounds her and her friends. These experiences and West’s perseverance are all depicted on her aptly titled and stunning sophomore album, The Lamb.

The record is a multi-dimensional exploration of both the human spirit and music that aims to crush souls. The quiet yet emotionally powerful grunge ballad “Moth” is reminiscent of Juliana Hatfield. West’s lyricism is poetic, as she realizes that stability is increasingly associated with living a life of make believe. At the forefront, however, is the beautifully devastating “Dove”. Shallow synths, deft rhythms, and a dissonant guitar create the feeling of plunging into the great blue sea. This landscape, however, is drowned with the tears of sorrow and pain, as West says goodbye to someone she dearly loved.

“And now you’re gone
For some prettiness
That I don’t believe.
It’s all made up,
Everyone just leaves.”

The Lamb is also filled with gorgeous widescreen cinema. The Mitski-esque “Dropout” commences with a stirring melody and grows into a breathtaking crescendo. It is fantasy meeting reality, as West’s asks out loud, “Can you keep a secret? This is not the only one”. The dazzling “Water Over Sex”, meanwhile, illuminates like the Auroras on a wintry night, as synths, a shoegaze guitar, and a trembling bass line bounce across the track. West’s intimate and quietly urgent vocals are filled with uncertainty and doubt. Her words indicate she doesn’t believe that good fortune will last and that her luck will eventually change. As a result, she lies to protect what she has, but in the end her fate becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As she reveals, “I love my secrets I’m lucky in making”.

The perky, lo-fi pop-rock “Spy” offers a touch of hope and youthful exuberance, as West proclaims, “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here”. It is West momentarily letting go and entrusting her life in the hands of others. Vulnerability strikes on “I Get Cut”, which summarizes the multiple events that have affected West’s life over the past two years. Despite the hardship from the pass of Herc to being robbed, she still finds faith in a few. She gracefully sings, “I’m lucky I’m never alone”. Later she adds, “I get cut with every touch / You come by and soak it up”. West hasn’t completely lost faith in humanity.

Overcoming the passing of a loved one, however, forever lingers, and West reveals her emotions and wishes on the splendid “When You Die”. Instead of a remorseful and sullen tune, West amps up the energy and delivers a stunning, little anthem. The song, however, isn’t a recounting of her feelings, but rather an opportunity for West to rewrite history. It’s her way to cope with the tragedy, where she can imagine what life would be like if the outcome was different.

Although West’s lyricism is abstract on most of the songs, she delivers her most pointed songwriting on the intoxicating “Destroyer”. The song chimes with the intimate indie-rock of Girlpool and Hop Along with dashes of Car Seat Headrest. As the low-key rhythm guitar reverberates in the background and is interrupted by the chimes of another, West’s vocals waver from deadpan to a swelling storm. She proclaims without hesitation, “You are the reason my heart broke behind my back”. Beyond the chorus, however, are more revealing lines, where she explains the many times she was almost her own destroyer as she tried to grapple with the violence and threat that lived with her.

The album comes to a close with the gritty, doo wop-infused “See You At Home”. At last, West finds liberation, not just for herself but another bound to her. She has found a little bit of piece in this dysfunctional world.

“And it’s already over,
I release you from us both.
Goodbye maybe forever.
I’ll remember what she wrote.”

And remember we shall what Lillie West has written in The Lamb. Through pain and sorrow, through the fragile and uncertain times, West still finds strength and the occasional glimmer of hope. She makes us understand that the human spirit is stronger than one can imagine. And maybe, just maybe, we can be immortal.

The Lamb is out now via Hardly Art. Purchase it at the label’s store or directly on Bandcamp.

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