In the fashion world, patchwork, the design concept that calls for small pieces put together as part of a larger design, might be considered pejorative. But when it comes to music, it’s the most fitting word for a band like Lilum, and that’s absolutely a positive thing.
Lilum’s sound is more or less a patchwork of many of the major waves of rock we’ve heard — independently and commercially — since the late ’80s and early ’90s. Grunge, shoegaze, hardcore, math rock, even a tinge of emo before it became part of the national vernacular (think Sunny Day Real Estate, Cursive, and American Football types, not Fall Out Boy) — what makes Lilum so effective, so noteworthy, is their ability to blend so many pieces without ever sounding imitable. Instead, listening to them is like buying a used book or finding a family relic: comfortable and familiar, but still new in its own way. And speaking of comfortable and familiar but new, the Windsor, Vermont, foursome are sharing their second EP, Hello From VT, for free on their MySpace page.
Don’t let the Vermont stereotypes cloud your perception: Lilum doesn’t come off like the hippie-jam-stoner bands that the state of maple syrup, cheese, and Howard Dean became known for in music circles. Listening to the first track, the warm but hefty rocker “Rong Johnson,” allays any such doubts. The next song, “Angel,” a reworked tune from their first EP, … And Their Desperate Search for Thrills, shows Lilum’s depth and complexity. The band’s evolution is literally served up for our scrutiny, and they’ve grown in only one direction: up. The new version of “Angel” is given the sultrier, slower and heavier, more volatile treatment the first version begged for.
There’s a truth and wit to Lilum, so when they’re at their most aggressive on “Glasgow Smile” and “October,” it feels more like frustration and energy as opposed to anger or hostility. There’s no testosterone overdrive as so many bands that want to sound heavy are apt to engage in. It’s an honest strength, not a parodied one.
Putting the band’s two EPs together makes for a decent album, but it makes for an even stronger case for why Lilum should be locked away somewhere with a solid cash flow so they can produce the cohesive LP they’re more than capable of. Yet they decided to give the goods away for free. Aren’t we the lucky ones?