Published Feb 25, 2020Sound the alarm — corrosive Vancouver punk trio lié are back with their fourth album (and second for Mint Records), You Want It Real. Although Mint is best known for its legacy of cuddlecore releases, You Want It Real is an attention-seizing reminder that the Vancouver imprint embraces the abrasive as much as the jangly and poppy.
Since forming in 2013, lié have been as real as it gets. Drummer Kati J, bassist/singer Brittany West, and guitarist/singer Ashlee Luk bring zero nonsense to the stage. And they don't mince words when they speak out against the issues they seek to destroy: abuse in all its forms, toxic masculinity and patriarchy.
On You Want It Real, though, lié's weapons of choice are imagery and metaphor. Worry, anxiety, dread and fear crawl and infest like six-legged creatures on "Bugs." The oppressively arid "Digging in the Desert" sidewinds like a kingsnake in the sand. The menacing track explores hedonistic feelings; its title alone conjures an image of someone desperately trying to feed an insatiable appetite when the last morsel is gone — digging in the desert is a fool's errand, after all.
But lié still respond to bullshit, like social expectations for women, head-on here. "Fantasy of Destructive Force" jumps between characters: "Why so hostile? Can't you give me a smile?" one asks before the other snaps back, "Why don't you leave me alone?" She then warns, "You're not invincible, up against the wall."
As easy and cathartic as it can be to let anger rage unhinged, lié exercise some control on You Want It Real. They do this not only through deft technical skill, but through tight song structures, too. Even when a song like "Bugs" swerves from peaks of relentless fury to downright melodious valleys, it does so within boundaries set by repetition, the same way a techno track might follow a strict, albeit dynamic, course of highs, mids and lows. (It's worth noting that both Luk and West are part of harsh acid/rave projects Minimal Violence and Sigsaly, respectively.)
But respite is brief on songs like "Bugs" and "Drowning in Piss." (The latter, despite its briny title, is the catchiest song on You Want It Real.) They're slotted next to cuts that have zero quit and pull no punches. Fierce attacks like "All Night Long," "Good Boy" and "You Got It" leave the listener raw. Immediate and enormous in feeling, You Want It Real is claustrophobic, making lié's ferocious thrashing and beating against the metaphorical walls of systemic oppression all the more urgent. (Mint)