Trullie pushes hard to be more than the easy charmer she was on her debut EP.
Lissy Trullie is a New York-based model-turned-musician. Although her background story creates expectations of more downtown New York cool in the "I am too cool to care" manner of the Strokes, her 2009 debut EP, Self Taught Learner, actually followed more closely in the footsteps of the Virgins (whose self-titled album came out in 2008), another collection of models trying their hand at music. The Virgins played an amalgamation of late '70s and early '80s styles popular in New York -- disco, post-punk, synth-pop -- with relatively little affectation. Trullie stuck more strictly to the rock side of New York’s musical history, but she also chose to dispense with much of the attitude. She covered Hot Chip’s light-hearted "Ready For The Floor" as a straight-forward rock tune, and showed a knack for power chords and spindly guitar lines. It wasn’t a new approach, but there is always room for a good punky guitar-pop band.
Trullie’s recently released debut full length, Lissy Trullie, still more or less follows the direct rock-orientation of Self Taught Learner, but keyboards and horns make an appearance, creating a fuller sound. It’s also a bigger sound. Trullie plays harder and darker, yells more, and drafts Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio) and John Hill (who has worked with the likes of M.I.A. and Rihanna) to produce. However, it’s not clear that all that added studio muscle adds much to the music. There is a lot of forward pound, like Trullie really needs to get something off of her chest, but not a lot of release -- she frequently bowls her way through verses, but drops the ball on the chorus. On tracks like "It’s Only You, Isn’t It" and "Heart Sound", Trullie gnashes her teeth and screams for the listener’s attention, but the extra effort fails to match the more basic appeal of something from her EP like "She Said". The songs don’t stick.
Part of this problem stems from the lyrics. On Trullie’s debut, the lyrics came easily -- "There’s a whole lot of don’t to do" or "Do I look good in red she said / I said always." But now Trullie seems intent on making big pronouncements. "Its Only You, Isn’t It" sounds hurt, but more than a little self-important, as Trullie sings, "...mass hysteria, this is it / If I can’t bend I break, this is it." "Caring" is about "passing the time with caring". "Madeline," which features Lissy trying to sound deeper and darker, in the vein of Nico, begins with a flop, "Madeline, Madeline, all the wiring’s gone awry." "I Know Where You Sleep" finds Trullie in stalker mode, singing "I know where you sleep / what it’s like when you breath/ and how your heart beats," but it doesn’t convey the anger or heartbreak which might make a creepy statement like that intriguing, so it sounds either strange of pathetic. In "Heart Sound", Trullie intones, "...the stronger the pull the greater the thrill...a big heart makes a big sound." Pop lyrics are not required to have much insight or meaning, but when delivered uninterestingly, a line like "A big heart makes a big sound" doesn’t have much going for it.
One of the songs on the album that departs from its usual mode ends up being the most appealing. "Wearing Blue" starts with a nice lyrical turn, "Have you seen Joe, he’s wearing blue/ I’ve got black on my face from crying for you-know-who." The horns that Trullie throws onto the hook are a change of pace and provide a contrast with the somber bass. The flair of the opening and chorus shows a promise that Trullie leaves mostly unrealized on the rest of the album. "Wearing Blue" shows that she may be capable of making the "big sound" she is looking for.