By Maria Coraza
Artist: Alex Lilly
Album: 2% Milk
Release Date: Jan. 11, 2019
Label: Release Me Records
Alex Lilly is a singer-songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles, Calif. Prior to releasing her solo album 2% Milk, she has collaborated with artists such as Beck, Lorde, and the bird and the bee. She has also previously embarked on musical projects with Obi Best, Touché, Zero Desire, and The Living Sisters. Lilly is now currently signed under Release Me Records, an independent record label founded by singer-songwriter Inara George. Co-produced by Jacob Bercovici, Andy Bauer, Daedulus (Daedelus Music BMI) and Alex Lilly herself, 2% Milk presents itself as a synth-pop album with quirky traces and vampy vibes. Lilly delivers an interesting introspect on love, personal, and societal issues with a sardonic smile and sensual observation. With one listen, 2% Milk will drive you to nonchalantly dance around your room as you muse on your failed romantic relationships and late-night contemplations.
The album opens up with an alien mood with strikes of space-like synth chords in the first track “Confucius Says.” Playful and sprightly, the song is reminiscent of 80s synth-pop with drum machines, synths, bass, and brassy overtones. We follow the relationship between Lilly and her therapist as we dive into the dance groove of the tune. In an interview with Grant Owens from “We Found New Music,” Lilly says it’s about “not trying too hard in letting things happen.” A deep theme of anxiety approaches when she hits us with the bridge, “Denying, drinking, lying, constant thinking. All I did was waste more time.” Hidden in the core of this upbeat song, this line exemplifies how we hide our negative emotions and fears behind a happy facade.
In the album-titled single, “2% Milk,” Lilly transforms a poem by freelance LA poet, Jacqueline Suskind, into an entrancing product. The track features an electric orchestra layer that transitions into a dripping texture of noise when the beat drops. “2% Milk” is definitely the highlight of the album for its stimulating flow and syrupy synths. As the song ebbs and flows from a rigid verse to a free-flowing chorus, Lilly sings with a seductive voice. She compares the pasteurization of milk to the depletion of quality in life from cultural and technological distractions.
In “Pornographic Mind,” Lilly explores themes of sexual harassment in the work environment. For such a touchy theme, Lilly remains cool and collected with her supple voice and unbothered lyrics, “When it goes to that place, I’m going home. With a smile on my face, I’m going home.” Dark and provocative, “Pornographic Mind” features a smoky saxophone by James King and cascading echo effect in the chorus.
The rest of the album consists of a mix of synth-pop dance and experimental pop but it does vary in pace. Sentimental ballads like “Boomerang,” “Cold Snap,” and “Firefly” collectively sound like odes to an old lover. Lilly laments her love disillusions in the memorable line, “My love is a firefly, he only lives just for one night, then a flash of that fatal spark when left alone in the dark,” in “Firefly.” These three songs add a depth of warmness with its tender lyrics and slow build-up while keeping its bouncy flare. The feel of these songs is also nostalgic to 80s synth-pop ballads.
Overall, with dodgy rhythms and unexpected chord progression, 2% Milk makes for an exotic pop experience. Lilly definitely has a sexy and off-the-wall flavor and is not afraid to think out of the box when it comes to her work.