Better Can't Make
Your Life Better
by Eric Wittmershaus
Just when you thought the contemporary music scene was devoid of Kinks, Monkees and Syd Barrett rip-offs, along come the Lilys with their third album, Better Can't Make Your Life Better.
The Lilys, a.k.a. Kurt Heasley, and whoever happens to be hanging around the studio, reached their pinnacle with its first album, In the Presence of Nothing--their attempt to prove that an American band could produce an album stylistically similar to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.
The subsequent EP, A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns, while very good, served as an ironic warning of what was to come. Their second album, Eccsame the Photon Band, was decent, but to the already intitiated, was a mere shadow of ITPON.
This brings us to the Lilys' current offering. Better Can't Make Your Life Better is a great album compared with most of the crap being pushed on us by 40-something record company execs, but it fails to stack up to the Lilys earlier work. Indeed, it is almost uncomparable because the band decided to undergo a radical style shift.
Better can best be described as Kurt Heasley's tribute to the bands of his childhood. "A Nanny in Manhattan," the first single off of the album, steals the riff from the Doors' "Hello, I Love You," and "Kink-ifies" it. While this might be a novel idea if attempted by a band like Garbage, one can only listen to the Lilys' version and think, "You're better than that!" (see also Ride and The Boo Radleys)
For classic rock fans with a hankering for all things retro, Better could be one of the best "new-old" albums to come out in a long time, but anyone tired of the latest wave of hip, retro bands (e.g., Weezer) will view the album as nothing more than covers of unreleased Monkees tunes.
Ultimately, the Lilys are one of those bands that reached its creative apex long ago, yet continues to plod ahead, making somewhat forgettable albums no one will ever hear because the band was never that famous to begin with.
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