Lola Ray - liars Review
by Patrick Muldowney
"We're not having any fun." A bit of verbal irony, but this is when Lola Ray, a mostly pretty boy rock band, is at its best. In a sea of Kajagoogoo, John Balicanta tones down his breathy bravado for this track, allowing the music to maintain the maturity it partially displays throughout the album. Fortunately, "we're not having any fun" is then allowed to suit the smoky bar found in Valley Girl rather than the new wave flooding Molly Ringwald flicks. Let's face it, old "new wave" is what we're inundated with over and over these days, but isn't it the deviations from the norm that tend to catch our ear, and subsequently our attention. Especially when the deviations include percussion work convincing enough to make Alex Smolinski alumni of The Chris Mars School of Kickass, and a strong enough sense to include gang vocals.
The rest of liars has intermittent moments worthy of notice. "Officer & a gentleman" seems to look any pinpoint identity, leaping from Bosstone horns to Interpol bridge to Nick Heyward melody without any foreseen cause. This works in that it encompasses many palates, but plays like a band intentionally attempting the unexpected, rather than stumbling onto novelty. Natural (rather than forced) always plays better. "Beautiful boy" is as confusing content-wise (and possibly gender-wise) as The National's "Friend of Mine", but not nearly as intelligent. This song could easily be movie hit material though. "I will make you mine" follows "we're not having any fun" well, beginning with the lonely, ringing guitar before the rhythm section picks up on the drive of the previous track. Sadly though, Balicanta channels Buddy Holly at the most inopportune time, whittling the overall sound down to the Wang Chung level.
Lola Ray!!!'s liars ends up as a "could have". From the talent and ideas present throughout the disc, it could have been great, but it was okay. Until the band correctly combines its elements, that may be just the story of Lola Ray!!!, who only managed one album after Good Charlotte signed them, before being dropped prior to this release. This begs the question: why liars? In honor of fellow NYC band? Jab at the D.C. Flag label? For whatever reason, I think all of us know not to trust those who try to look like Rancid, but try to sound like 'NSync. Hopefully, the next album is called truth, and it results in less fun for Lola Ray!!!
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Lola Ray - liars
Label:Zero Sum Recordings
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