Monday, May 10, 2010

Lilys - Precollection - 2003

One of indie's most continually shape-shifting bands, the Lilys perform another quick change on their seventh album, Precollection. However, this transformation feels more like a natural progression than their move away from dream pop to '60s-inspired mod rock a few years previously; this time, Kurt Heasley and company still look to that decade for inspiration, but draw from the delicate, literate side of Love and the Kinks' body of work. The dark, jangly sound of '80s college rock also seems to be an inspiration, hovering around the title track and "365" as though the band were channeling the Church. Most of the rest of Precollection seems to come from a twilight era between 1966 and 1967 that mixes psychedelic, pop, and folk influences. Granted, most of Heasley's work since A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns has its roots firmly planted in this era, but he's never quite combined these influence in this way before, and ironically enough, it's the closest he's come to an original sound in some time. Precollection's breeziest songs fare best: "Will My Lord Be Gardening" -- which, thankfully, isn't quite as precious-sounding as the title implies -- and "Dunes" are equally smart and sweet. However, the album's deeper psychedelic explorations aren't always as rewarding: "Perception Room" is a winner, mixing the droning, dreamy tendencies of Heasley's earlier work with the sparer approach of his later albums, as is "Squares," which turns its heavy Bryan MacLean influences into a positive rather than a negative. "Catherine (let a positive stream...)" and "Meditations on Speed," however, are pleasant but just a little too hazy and unfocused to work completely. Still, while Precollection isn't as stunning as something like Eccsame the Photon Band, it doesn't feel as contrived as some of the work the Lilys did during their mod rock dalliance; fans who have stayed with the band this long will probably find the album a breath of fresh air.-AMG


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