[24 April 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
London’s Lilies on Mars has big names dropping in on their sound. They’ve been played on the radio show belonging to former Cocteau Twins member and current Bella Union record label owner Simon Raymonde. So you would think there’s a lot going on with the sound of Lilies on Mars’ third release, Dot to Dot. Sadly, this is the sort of stuff that would merit third-rate shoegaze or post-rock. There’s hardly a standout track to be found on the record, and the most interesting thing that can be said about it is that the fourth song, “No Way”, sounds remotely like latter period Yo La Tengo with its organ-y, indie rock sounds. Aside from that, there’s not much here that can be recommended, and much of the record comes across as standard. In fact, Dot to Dot is pretty average at best, and it’s telling that there’s a song here titled “Sugar Is Gone”. It seems that, indeed, much of the magic that would have defined this band’s sound has disappeared. In fact, a lot of what would pass on Dot to Dot would sound like Serena-Maneesh on a particularly bad day.
Things take a turn for the outright garish on “Interval 2”, one of a couple of interstitial pieces on the record, which ends with a calamity of berserk keyboard sounds. “The First 3 Years” sounds like a klaxon of sounds going on—it has the sonics of a car alarm going off at a bleating rate. Final song “Martians”, meanwhile, has vocals processed through a megaphone, and comes across as being more annoying than affecting. Even opening song “See You Sun” can’t save things. It merely sounds like Nintendo music updated for the new millennium. Overall, Dot to Dot more or less is an uninteresting amalgam of sounds that tries to render itself as music box fragility, but fails on more than one account. Unless you’re a committed proponent of post-rock, dream pop, or shoegaze sounds, this one more than merits a pass.