‘sardonic, comedic, bizarre, surreal, and some nifty pop hooks‘ says Dara Higgins of Lie Ins‘ debut Death To Lie Ins.
Lie Ins are a Dublin two piece, featuring preternaturally youthful Michael Stevens of Groom, Skelocrats et al on guitar and vocals and Ruan van Vliet, of whom it would be simpler to list the projects his not involved in, beating the skins. They reside on the Popical Island label where, apparently, people just sit around all day writing pure pop tunes on fucked amplifiers. Whatever it is they’re at, it seems to be working (for the most part). The next trick will be trying to get their plethora of chirpy pop songs, across a range of different (yet oddly similar) artistes out into the wider world. Monetise the charm, make millionaires of them all. No pressure.
The problem with the drums, guitar two piece (White Stripes, Black Keys, Death From Above, Morcambe and Wise) is that eventually they get boring. It’s the danger of having nothing else in your sounds but guitar and drums, and drums don’t leave a lot of room for nuance. Lie Ins get around this problem by cheating. The album is not just the two of them. It’s chock full of instruments; organs and the bass and the like, played, one assumes by the two protagonists, and filling out the songs. They’re not obstinately sticking to some kind of stripped back low fi ethos and letting the songs suffer as a result, which is good.
Vegetarian Girls is a Paul Simon cast off, an odd ditty about tennis, I think. It’s hard to tell. There’s barely enough air in Steven’s lungs to get all the words out. Lie Ins seem to be in a great hurry, realising as they do, that the purest pop finishes on the skinny side of three minutes. The 11 tracks on this debut platter clock in at just under half an hour. This is bite sized composition with lyrics that are sardonic, comedic, bizarre, surreal, and some nifty pop hooks.
Some of the tracks are straight up, rockier types, The Low Men or I Really Feel the Feelings I Feel, for example, whereas they show they can also go a bit swoony with a track like I Hide My Love In Evening Time, a romantic jaunt, filled out with some flute-alike melodies. When the woodwinds build up, it’s reminiscent of Lincoln era They Might Be Giants, without the wilful tangents. It proves that they don’t have to zoom through a song in order to compress it to a pop pdf.
The title track might be the standout, coming across as a cross between Spongebob Squarepants and The Misfits, repeating the refrain “death to the Lie Ins” amid the rattling white noise. It may be a song about parenthood, though I doubt it. The lovely County Mayo is the ribbon that wraps the package off, a song about, of all things, County Mayo. “I had a bottle in each hand, I had a woman at each elbow” sings Stevens, recalling a Mayo we’ll all recognise. It clocks in at about 4 minutes, like a self indulgent prog number. Is there no end to the variation?