By Dylan Welsh
The first time I heard London’s Lilies On Mars, I was excited by their ambient, guitar-driven songs that skirted gracefully along the line between their contemporaries in the shoegaze and post-rock genres, bringing to mind groups such as Ringo Deathstar and Mogwai. Their new release, Dot to Dot, is much heavier on the ambiance than what I’ve heard from them thus far, and seems to focus much more on sonic texture than song construction.
The first track, “See You Sun,” sets the tone for most of the album right away. Generally, the tunes are a little dark, sinister, and lathered with reverb and sweet, old school analogue synthesizer tones. The guitar takes a dreamy backseat role, strumming along quietly with the low-mixed vocal harmonies, letting the strong beats and synth pads drive the album forward. The songs continue in this fashion for the majority of the record, blending together well but feeling a little repetitive and redundant by the end.
The song that most noticeably broke this formula was the fourth track, “No Way.” It contains a far catchier chord progression and more prominent vocal line than other track, mixed in with a great sounding washy guitar. This was the first song on the record that didn’t feel like a dance track to me. I also really enjoyed the tracks “Impossible Child” and “For the First Three Years.” “Impossible Child” is much less repetitive both harmonically and melodically than other tracks on the record. “For the First Three Years” throws an unexpected kink in the formula by dropping the big, sustained synth pads almost entirely, making the other elements sound significantly darker, creepier, and far more intimate.
While I appreciate whenever a group tries to move in a new direction, the production and heavy reliance upon large, ambient synthesizers and heavy beats made this album feel like a club record. Dot to Dot is infections and danceable, but it’s also repetitive and fairly unremarkable amongst the myriad of other synth-pop releases that are out these days.
Pros: Cool, ambient soundscape that has a few really killer tracks.
Cons: Repetitive and doesn’t bring anything unique or unexpected to the table.
Highlights: “No Way,” “Impossible Child,” “For the First Three Years”
Pre-order Dot to Dot on iTunes! (Expected release: February 11, 2014)