Better Can't Make Your Life Better
Primary Recordings
byMatt Amundsen


The latest offering from the Lilys hits like a refreshing blast of cold air on an oppressively hot afternoon. Elaborate instrumentation merges with '60s-inspired melodies to produce material that is both off-kilter and immediately addictive. Calling it pop is deceptive, because the songs are meticulously crafted and diverse, but the label fits because they're fun in a way only pop music can be.

Most of the songs have a built-in start-and-stop element that keeps everything unpredictable and fresh. Take, for instance, the album's opener, "Cambridge California," which starts with an apparent misfire but then recaptures its momentum more than adequately. As another example, the bottom drops out just after the second verse in "Who Is Moving," arguably the album's brightest shining star, only to suddenly reappear with added enthusiasm. The album was obviously recorded with care and consideration. Just listen to the percussion in "Shovel Into Spade Kit" and "The Tennis System (and Its Stars)," or the keyboards in "A Nanny in Manhattan" and you'll get an overall sense of both the playfulness and craft behind the album's construction. Even the wash of noise at the end of "Paz en el Hogar" serves to refresh the palate for the next musical treat. When employed with such precision, these subtle touches can only elevate the album from good to great.

The vocals prove that the music isn't the album's only attraction, often spiraling in a huge circle within the song only to arrive back at the beginning by the song's end. The lyrics aren't always clear, but half the fun is trying to decipher what they're saying and what it means. Take the opening lines, for example: "Hope you're free and better now your ceiling's gone/Hope you're getting out more now your roof ain't on." What the hell are they talking about? Who knows, but it works wonderfully.

An album this sincere and impassioned makes you remember why you ever started listening to music in the first place. (Primary Recordings, 72 Spring St., New York, NY, 10012)....

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