Prevaricators are clever people. Not simply contrary for the sake of controversy, artistic liars acknowledge truth, but distort it by using deliberate words and gestures that could be as convincingly real and honest as facts. True to their name, the Lies transform the detached irony and icy compositions of post-punk into anthems imbued with utter honesty and performed with passionate conviction -- which may make the Lies one of indie rock's most deceptively honest groups. The Lies' urgent melodies and earnest lyrics march to somber tones like those of Joy Division, Magnetic Fields, and My Dad Is Dead. Yet the anthemic song structures and lush instrumentation on their second full-length album tend toward an unguarded optimism that belies the requisite gloom of their genre.
There's a melodic symmetry to the Lies' songwriting that accentuates the subtleties within the layers of sound; multiple instruments play equal parts of the overall melody, without a particular musician dominating the tune. While a given song may include a melodic theme -- as in "Accident and Emergency" and "Cosmetic" -- each instrument feeds into the melody as a piece of a whole overture. The nursery-rhyme melody of "Accident and Emergency" begins with a nod to the plodding strain of Joy Division's "Atmosphere," replete with analog synthesizers shadowing the vocal melody. Vocalist Dale Shaw sings harmoniously between a low-register chant and a yearning wail: "Safety and silence/I want it all." But where Joy Division's songs evoked fatalism in their lyrics and a haphazard mix of instruments, the Lies seem almost optimistic beneath suffocating layers of antique synthesizers and strings. While the band's songs are undeniably melancholic, Shaw's lyrics never stoop to dour nihilism; nor does the music rely on plodding dirges. Instead, the Lies challenge listeners to hear the truth.
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