A deeply introspective and noisy Chicago-based indie rock project led by singer/songwriter Lillie West, Lala Lala rose from playing basements in the underground D.I.Y. scene to signing with Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art for their 2018 sophomore album The Lamb. Born in London, England, but raised during her teenage years in Los Angeles, West eventually headed to Chicago where she was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She became ingrained in the city's D.I.Y. music community and formed Lala Lala in 2015, using her songs as a means of processing her experiences and emotions. Harsh, raw, and decidedly lo-fi, the band's self-released 2016 debut, Sleepyhead, was also imbued with a certain tenderness and vulnerability thanks to West's confessional lyrical style. Following a break-in at her Chicago apartment and the death of a close friend, she entered a difficult phase during which she became sober and retreated intensely into her songwriting. These new songs were increasingly inward-gazing, often sad, and very personal. After landing a deal with Hardly Art, Lala Lala returned to the studio to record West's new songs, emerging with 2018's The Lamb. The album was acclaimed by critics and adored by fans, and West toured relentlessly. The next year Hardly Art gave Sleepyhead a proper reissue treatment, issuing the album on vinyl for the first time and getting West's earlier material into the hands of new fans.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo
© Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 28, 2019 | Hardly Art
Chicago band Lala Lala is centered around the dark-yet-vulnerable songwriting of Lillie West. West's songs reached a wider audience with her 2018 album The Lamb, a collection of straightforward and intuitive indie rock songs about sobriety, trauma, and recovery. The album brought Lala Lala to legions of new listeners for the first time, but was preceded by the more lo-fi rawness of West's 2016 self-released debut, Sleepyhead. Though The Lamb wasn't quite refined, Sleepyhead presented the project in a far grainier and messier way. In between the two albums, West lost a close friend, experienced a home invasion, and went sober, all of which were reflected on directly in her songs. That direct songwriting perspective highlights just how different things were for West at the time Lala Lala was starting out. Sleepyhead's blown-out drums, growling bass lines, and walls of layered vocals all look to '90s grunge as the template for West's lyrics about restlessness and social anxiety. "Dream Song" zips along impatiently, with West rushing lyrics about dreams of a better situation as if she just wants to finish one song so another can start. Boring small-talk conversations and dragging social obligations show up on "Fuck with Your Friends" and "Cool Party but Then We All Left," the latter cloaking a tender interplay between drifting guitar and dissatisfied vocals in dreamy reverb. The short album lasts less than half an hour, wandering between solo songs like "Bully" and full-band explosions like the stand-out "Nothing." Hooky and uncluttered pop songs married to painfully intimate lyrical narratives drew many fans to The Lamb, and Sleepyhead is as strong of a statement as The Lamb's more subdued updates to its uncooked beginnings. Listeners intrigued by riskier production and the happy accidents of lo-fi recording might even prefer the scattered and sometimes unhinged sounds. © Fred Thomas /TiVo