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Lala Lala - The Lamb Suite Music Album Reviews



On her second album, Lillie West retains the charming simplicity of her songs, but she finds new depth as a songwriter as she explores the act of standing up to herself.

Lillie West has not been writing songs or playing guitar seriously for very long. The idea of doing so only dawned on her in 2014, while tagging along during a tour with brazen dance-pop outfit Supermagical. But her first record, 2016’s Sleepyhead, delivered on the simple promise of her band’s name, with melodies and rhymes easy enough to land on first listen. West’s songs tend to come in four-bar phrases, each in two distinct halves, a resolving “Lala” for every tension-building one. That formula remains for West’s first album for Hardly Art, The Lamb, but the scheme has been refashioned to uphold something new: a budding maturity.

West doesn’t write in a fundamental fashion just because she likes how it sounds; the approach serves a directness that seems non-negotiable. West’s songs are startlingly forthcoming, laying bare her life in plain terms. On Sleepyhead, West openly divulged her personal struggles in a wrung-out voice over baby-stepping riffs. “I drink more than I want to/’cause it makes you easier to talk to/And what you’re saying is boring,” began “Fuck With Your Friends.”

But West has given up drinking and other vices, the fact that propels much of The Lamb—a major leap musically and an unflinching reflection on the courage of rejecting easy comforts. Small pledges to self-control speckle the album. “If I’m using my hands, can you cut them off?/You’re a light turned on, and I’m a moth,” she sings during opener “Destroyer,” addressing the threats of internal push-back against sobriety. She even names a song “Water Over Sex.” The Lamb features less of West confessing, more of her making commitments to herself.

These frills-averse songs work because West has the gift of economy, choosing just the right word or note to find the center of the matter. “Scary Movie” sounds both intimate and galactic, like a handwritten letter read aloud from a space shuttle. The charged-up “I Get Cut” is perfectly elemental indie rock, as satisfying as a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. (In a full-circle moment, Supermagical’s Emily Kempf, who now plays bass in the band, adds wonderful backing vocals.) “See You at Home” ends The Lamb with a rare flourish, a saxophone solo that points to the personal change found within the preceding 30 minutes.

In the music video for “Destroyer,” West roams the town with a baseball bat. She takes some swings in a batting cage, lounges with it on a mattress, goes Gallagher on a watermelon by the lake, and poses beside the bat in a photo booth, as though they’re best friends on a big day out. It all seems fun, but last year, West slept through a home invasion, which she references during “I Get Cut.” “I bought a bat to keep me safe at home,” she sings. “And I’m so lucky that I’m never alone.” These are distilled glimpses into the album’s core and Lala Lala’s new sense of purpose: reclaiming something that represents fear, including life itself.


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