Published Aug 28, 2019"Take it / take it [...] take it / away," stutters Lala Lala's Lillie West, her gauzy voice floating through synth clouds. Then, dead-eyed, she punches through: "Thought you were a tattoo on my tongue [...] Too bad you're just poison in my blood," she calls, the band's flailing elbows making all of them ungraspable, unhurtable.
In 2016, Lillie West, Abby Black and Karla Bernasconi recorded Sleepyhead over five winter days. On August 23 of this year, the album was rereleased on Hardly Art, with new artwork. The album is tight with a festering angst we were supposed to grow out of, the faces we were supposed stop making lest they stick. The drums kick against their bedroom walls. The tempo of "Nothing" is like a clapping game devolving into chaos. "Bed" is a partier's temper tantrum: "I don't wanna go yet / It's too early to go to bed." On "Lala Song," West covers her ears and yells, "I'm not even listening / I'm not even listening [...] You're not even nothing / You're not even nothing."
Though she's stuck on house party stairs "drinking every night," I can't help but feel that younger Lillie knew what was coming before she knew she did — that she'd get sober, that her life would split and keep splitting. "Something is moving / Across the ground / It's not always backwards." She pushes against the inevitability that today's hurt will shrivel in hindsight, but she immediately follows her insistent "I can't go on" with the opposite: "I'll go on."
Lillie West has metamorphosed since Sleepyhead, no longer a claustrophobic kid too scared to take things seriously, yet there remain glimpses. "I wanna be bigger," she sings on "Best Biggest Bully," the younger-sibling lyric to "You think I'm good / Well I wanna be gooder" from 2018's The Lamb.
Another thing that hasn't changed: Lillie West has always known how to close out an album. "Okie dokie who am I and do I know it when I'm high?" she wonders, bouncing lightly. She settles on this: "We'll be okay / We'll just exist / That's it / I love every bit." The guitars trip after her, stumbling before they can learn how to walk. (Hardly Art)