Review: LIIly – I Can Fool Anybody in This Town EP

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Review: LIIly – I Can Fool Anybody in This Town EP

Jalen Lesly

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While I tend to categorically reject the notion that any extremely popular genre of music can ever really “die,” I do concede that for a while now, rock has been stuck between itself and a hard place.
It would seem that the pop music zeitgeist has long since fallen out of line with rock sensibilities; even bands able to succeed in the current climate, your Fall Out Boys, your Front Bottoms, etc. are more than willing to gentrify their style for the sake of pleasing their label, and to appeal to the current perceived pop phenomena. One need only look to the somewhat confusing nominations for rock categories in the 61 st Annual Grammy Awards this February, or the painfully unexciting lineup of this year’s Woodstock 50 festival to see that even if rock isn’t dead, it’s definitely out of sync with what’s hip and happening these days.

But is that such a bad thing? After all, some of rock’s greatest bands have come out of the underground, and many of 2018’s best rock albums came from bands who might have been around for a while, but definitely don’t have a large presence on the radio – albums like Parquet Courts’ Wide Awake! or IDLES’ Joy as an Act of Resistance. So when I was sent the new EP by Los Angeles-based, up-and- coming band LIIly, I was excited to listen. And I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s not an understatement to say that LIIly is the rock band I’ve been looking for as of late, and I’m quite glad I found them. Their sound is an absolutely refined combination of influences from across genres, coalescing to create a throttling machine of youthful energy. If you’ve looked at my RIYL for their new EP, you might even be confused by how all these influences could make sense, but I’ll explain my selections here. The closest comparison I can manage is to Foals’ sound off of their 2008 debut Antidotes, but LIIly pulls from all sorts of places – they’re Jimmy Eat World if they were rougher around the edges, Brand New if they came close to recording material this raw and heartfelt during their formative years. Many of their drum patterns sound as though they could be lifted straight from a Two Door Cinema Club song, but recorded on an actual drum set and with about 12 microphones gathered around it. As for their production, it’s incredibly clean, reminiscent of Daughters’ self-titled 2010 effort, or Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork (which is no coincidence, as Mark Rankin, the producer of this EP, was the producer of that record as well). Forgive me for the comparisons, as I’m sure every young band loathes to hear the names of thousands of predecessors thrown around to define their sound before they’ve had a chance to release a studio record, but it’s helpful to understand just how many disparate influences are pulled together to create this release.

The EP’s first song, “Toro,” opens up with a short synth stab into a thundering drum beat, and slowly builds into a raucous song about craving unorthodox love that sounds like a modern, distilled
alternative to Foo Fighters’ “All My Life.” “Sepulveda Basin” is a slightly more chilled cut, opening with call-and-response guitar riffs, with lyrics like “I was a fiend for a little bit of gold / A foolish tale untold / Never did care not to open up and see / The ones who really loved me.” Even in less intense cuts, singer Charlie Anastasis’ voice is positively dripping with emotion, even if here it’s melancholy rather than rage.

Title track “I Can Fool Anybody in This Town” is definitely a highlight off of an already excellent first EP, a dense, well-constructed anthem for those desperately trying to hide struggles that threaten to bury them at every turn. The band’s sound on this song, as on the entire EP, is immaculately put together, flipping from verses outlined by crisp, loud bass riffs and sparsely sprinkled guitars to its pre-chorus and chorus’ math-rock-lite riffs that offer complexity without distracting from Anastasis’ vocals. Overall, it’s yet another fantastic track on an exciting first project, and needless to say, I am excited to see where the young band goes from here.