Italian, self-described "cosmic pop" electro-duo Lilies on mars have brought a progressive sound to their new album '∆GO' – one that builds on the admirable tenets of the genre as ascribed by the hypothetical mega-mix from these last years, and brings in elements previously, exclusively aligned to the poorly-produced and ill-conceived sounds of the Bandcamp "newest-first" bin. '∆GO' opens into Grimes territory with ‘Stealing’, an initially-instrumental ode to arpeggiators and '80s-throwback electronic synths eventually infiltrated by the heavily-reverbed, near-childlike evocation “it’s alright”. The track is a strong introduction to ‘∆GO’ and a compositional standout.
Second track and first single ‘Dancing Star’ pulls up to the more twee end of Lilies on mars’ cosmic-pop oeuvre, with a shared, repeated vocal melody playing hopscotch above skittering synth twangs and a murked bass pedal. This end of Lilies on mars, to me, detracts from that moody, stabbing neon-glossed film soundtrack drum sound that features so prominently elsewhere in the album.
Mid-album, ‘From The Earth To Above’ bounces into ears with a Game-Boy-videogame-menu-soundtrack synth melody, Joy-Division-esque bass riff and sound, and more reverb-soaked "oohs" from Masia and Marina. It’s a welcome reprieve from a spate of boring mid-album quicksand all too often found in new releases, and a welcome return to Grimes-channelings as a digi-delayed harmonies warble behind prominent EQ fiddlings and genuine vocal/harmonic thought.
‘Sympathise’ ricochets multiply from wall to wall, with stutter-drums and a poly-rhythmic bass synth colliding intermittently as Masia and Marina move across the electro-pop spectrum to the Bat For Lashes side. Com-Truise-y samples break in as the song progresses, and fresh live-guitar stabs drop between heavily compressed snare hits and cymbal glitches. ‘Sympathise’ is at once unsettling, intriguing and utterly enjoyable. Album closer ‘I’ve Got You’ immediately pulls you down, lower than where you started off with the album. Sparse production enfolds you, whereupon a haunting, drawn-out syllable picks you by the scruff of the neck and floats you in yet further. The landscape makes itself more and more known, modulated feedback implying a tree here and there, until the sun breaks out from behind the noise-gate and you’re made aware of the whole environment. Live drums are on the far side of a great hall while organ sounds float with you in squadron-formation. The album ends to 90 seconds of fuzz, buzz, glitch and the unsubtle evocation of a dial-up modem.
'∆GO' is a sterling album, insofar as it unapologetically weaves a tapestry from the threads of its multiple forbears, and in so doing creates something not entirely dissimilar to something you’ve heard before – but dissimilar enough. It’s the perfect album with which to answer the question "what next?" after a glut of the 'Drive' soundtrack and 'Visions'.