Music

Liima: 1982 (review)

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

On their sophomore release 1982, Liima goes retro with dark, heavy synths and truly intriguing grooves.

There's no time like the night for Liima. The group is back with a second album in as many years, and while the beats are a little slower on 1982 than on last year's ii, the sounds are no less haunting. A tunnel of synths gives ample room for Casper Clausen's voice to echo, turning waves of introspection into a storm of feeling. It's an album that will leave aches in your heart and bittersweet thoughts churning in your mind -- the perfect start to a November.


Liima

1982

(City Slang)

Release Date: 3 Nov 2017

Nostalgia features heavily in the neon electronics that lead 1982's title track, a song that spreads out in layers of flickering light on cold concrete. Liima embraces the darker side of the distinctly inorganic quality common to so much 1980s music, and "1982" comes out as a photo negative of bubblegum pop.

Liima stays largely in one dark vein for the whole album, drenching tracks like dreamy "David Copperfield" in glitter and pouring a heart full of worry into tracks like "Life is Dangerous". The tracks do vary, but there's a sense that they all belong in the same time and place, that they all sprung into existence at once. This thematic similarity is a double-edged sword; the unity makes the album's 40-minute run an immersive one, but if you aren't sold by the first track, you're never going to get there.

Fortunately, 1982 is nothing if not intriguing, and the turns that build up its atmosphere are smooth ones. The album hits a high with "2-Hearted", where rising scales defy gravity and take Liima heavenward even as Clausen sings, over and over, that "All the world is / Coming down now." The contradictions between music and lyrics allow for an artful collapse, bringing the album back to where it glides along the ground.

"Jonathan, I Can't Tell You" flows freely for a minute before Tatu Rönkkö's always balanced beats drive the music forward and tell a nebulous story colored with hints of regret. As it comes to a slow end, a small choir joins the background for some extra vocal texture, filling out the song into a satisfying penultimate ballad. Soon after, closing track "My Mind Is Yours" makes one final call out into the void, but unlike most previous tracks, looks outward instead of inward, offering to share the journey through this dark world of Liima's creation with some kindred spirit who might be waiting.

The gritty rock moments that made ii so fascinating and intricate are not quite present in the slick retro grooves of 1982, and it's easy to miss the mess. Still, there's much to be said for the finesse of 1982, and Liima never sacrifices the dark edge that makes the group's music something more than everyday synthpop or lightweight vaporwave. There is always a weight, a purpose anchoring Liima's sound and keeping it from devolving into a frenzy of meaningless loops and mania. 1982 is form, feeling, and worldbuilding all in one well-polished package, and makes for a solid sophomore release.

7

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image