Duke University recently did a study that concluded that film critics only review films that they like, and only if no other critics have already said they like it. This claim was outrageous enough to incite Roger Ebert to temporarily turn off his third-trimester aborted fetus feeding tube (because he's pure evil, don't you know), come out into the sunlight, and say that the study was wrong because he did once give a movie two-and-a-half stars or less in the '70s.
But I for one completely agree with the results of the study, in as much as it exactly describes my process for deciding which albums to review. To wit, there are plenty of other albums that have come out so far this year for which I could gladly sing praises for hours (Love Is All, Belle & Sebastian, Jay Dee, Destroyer), but I'm sure you're sick of hearing about all those by now. Which is why today I bring you not a review of those things, but a review of Everything.
Lilys is a curious band. Beginning in the early nineties, Kurt Heasley and his revolving door of performers aped mostly shoegaze music, culminating in 1995's well-received Eccsame the Photon Band. But rather than rest on their laurels (or, if you prefer, lillies), they took a complete left turn, reimagined themselves as the Kinks, and put out their best album to date, 1999's gloriously nostalgic The 3-Way.
Since then, offerings from Lilys have been mixed. And by mixed, I mean not that well. Whoever was running the mixing boards for 2003's Precollection (without doing any research, I'm going to say it was Phil Spector) had, let's say, a wrong way of mixing thingsthough it had a handful of gems, many songs were far too sparse, and supporting parts (i.e. organ fills) were too often placed so high in the mix that they overpowered the song.
To an extent this is still a problem on Everything, but as we now all know, everything wrong is imaginary, and where previously I would have described the mixing as poor, I would now consider it merely unique. For example, when the pedal effects 1:30 into opener “Black Carpet Magic” get a little overbearing, it's invigorating rather than distracting.
Elsewhere, “Knocked on the Fortune Teller's Door” takes a standard shoegaze song and makes it sound otherworldly through its curious mixing. And then there's “A Diana's Diana,” which, though mixed quite normally, I'm convinced would outsell ringtones for “My Humps” if they would only play it on the radio, and, oh yeah, if only Americans weren't so very very stupid.
But who cares about the mixing if the songs are crap? Fortunately, Everything whips up a superior batch of songs rivaled only by The 3-Way. Side 1 is definitely the more adventurous side, and should appeal to fans of noisy shoegaze and new wave. Side 2 is a bit softer, but just as rewarding, offering the irresistible Britpop of the instrumental title track, the soaring ballad “Still in All the Glitter,” and the clever Shinsian closer “Scott Free.” It's an album I think a lot of people will love, if only more critics would start talking about it.