Liily – ‘TV Or Not TV’ review: an ambitious, risk-taking debut

The California band embrace experimentation on their sprightly debut album, snaking through rock, jazz and electronic influences with knife-sharp lyrics

At the core of ‘TV Or Not TV’, the squiggly, genre-mashing debut album from the LA-based four-piece Liily, is a relentless desire to break the rules. It’s the sound of a young, hungry band reconciling their rock roots – 2019’s ‘I Can Fool Anybody With This Town’ EP carved out their jagged sound – with new musical interests, including electronica (‘The Yig’) and sparks of jazz (‘Monkey’). “For any band that pushes the threshold, it’s either gonna do nothing or it’s gonna make major waves,” frontman Dylan Nash recently told NME.

Liily seem to be having buckets of fun while experimenting, by keeping things precisely rendered but playful. They sound best when they get lost in their own clamour, and they’re delightfully unhinged on the aforementioned ‘Monkey’, a clattering, cymbal-heavy cut propelled by rumbling planes of guitar. A squawking trumpet section, one of the most thrilling surprises on the album, leaps in at the last minute to join in on the action – sounding like a swirl of limbs in a classic Tom and Jerry fight. It’s simultaneously joyful and unsettling.

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The production, too, feeds into this freeform approach. ‘TV Or Not TV’ is constantly twitching and lurching, wriggling into deeper, darker sounds and then climbing back out of them again. Overdriven drums switch up the pace several times on tracks like ‘Early Bopper’ and ‘The Suit That Sold Itself’, while the reverb expands on the towering, tense ‘Anvil’, elevating Nash’s purposefully listless delivery, which gradually unravels into a Gallagher-like snarl.

There’s little first-person language in Nash’s lyrics. Instead, he flips his focus outwards, picking apart the seams of his generation’s collective fears. “The search for worth and its cult/Comes around to set you free,” he sings of the trials of social media on ‘I Am Who I Think You Think I Am’. “Of all you know and all you need, it’s worse”. The track culminates with a shouting fit of screeching guitars, thumping and stuttering against each other until they fall away.

‘TV Or Not TV’ operates within this exact sort of sharp, controlled chaos that Liily thrive in. Within these songs, you can pick out nuggets of the underground scene that birthed them: spontaneous-sounding arrangements, a disregard of rock n’ roll tropes, and wide-ranging genre explorations that subvert norms instead of succumbing to them.

Details

liily tv or not tv

  • Release date: October 22
  • Record label: Flush Records
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