Masters of self-sufficiency Popical Island have done it again. Members of the collective pop up in one band and another, then a different one, or maybe two at once, or who’s counting anyway? Lie Ins – not exactly new on the scene having been an entity as far back as at least 2009 – consists of two members culled from Groom, Squarehead and Tieranniesaur. You do the math. No wait, don’t, it’s simple really – Groom’s Michael Stevens takes vocal and guitar duties while Popical Island’s resident sticksman Ruan van Vliet mans the sticks. A bass guitar is superfluous to requirement in this collection of eleven songs delivered in under thirty minutes.
‘Death To Lie Ins’ kicks off with a hat-trick. Yeats referencing opener Cold Comfort, with its shouted refrain, is a burst of sardonic power pop. The playfully callous, tongue-in-cheek Vegetarian Girls follows on its heels – “Damien Wall it’s not your fault/ That your head’s an oversized empty vault” – its funny couplets taking the most unexpected mocking turns. We Were Born Into Corduroy – “We were born into corduroy/like you were born into money” – may well be the best song to feature corduroy since The Wedding Present.
After this introduction the pace moves to the forceful, choppy guitar strumming of The Low Men, with its nefarious protagonists “…pissing in the alleys on the weekend.” It almost feels like it belongs on another collection, a somewhat darker affair interrupting the flow and feel of the album thus far. Title track Death To Lie Ins features background effects, adding a space rock dimension as it noisily ascends out of bed and into the cosmos. The jangling punky guitar is to the fore once more in the album’s latter stages, particularly the giddy, mile-a-minute I Really Feel The Feelings I Feel, and Thank You Letters with its simply effective drum and guitar breaks. Then there’s Universal Truth, shuffling along at pace and gleefully rhyming “know me” with “anat-omy” .
It’s when the band eases back off the punk accelerator that the songwriting chops shine through in all their stripped back, unabashed glory. I Hide My Love In Evening Time – “when lazers shoot from her green eyes/ a glance at her oblique profile – layers up into a lovely, eccentric instrumental. Romantic imagery with a droll edge abounds in this gently uplifting yarn – “I met her when my heart was sore/ and her voice was a soft chainsaw.” County Mayo is a love song of a different ilk, a yearning acoustic paean to a missed homeland. Complete with lonesome whistling, it brings the album to a sombre end.
With jangly, infectious melodies and a sense of mischief in the witty lyrics ‘Death To Lie Ins’ rattles along at a fine pace, slowing only to reflect on some wryly observed reminiscences. These reflective numbers are all the more affecting laying in the midst of such frantic bedfellows, but the dry lyrical content rises above no matter what the band are tossing out. Snappy, enjoyable indie exuberance – who doesn’t enjoy a lie in?
Popical Island will release “Death to Lie Ins”, the début album by garage-pop duo Lie Ins, on February 2nd 2013, with a launch party in Anseo on Camden Street, Dublin.