For as deep of an affinity as Lydia have with the indie-emo scene, they’ve spent quite a bit of time moving away from it as of late. In fact, anything of the sort could be seen as completely scrubbed away on 2015’s Run Wild, operating far deeper in cleaner pop-rock territory befitting of their home on The Maine’s 8123 label. That was three years ago though, and pop-rock bands moving away from pure pop rather than closer to it simply isn’t the done thing, Liquor sees Lydia in the mindset of a lightweight summer album delving even deeper into synthetic indie-pop.
To Lydia’s credit though, they do it better than most; Liquor at least has a tangible knowledge of groove, no matter how breezy and ephemeral they may otherwise be, and for a more easygoing, small-scale listen, this does manage to fit that criteria. That said, it does feel as though Lydia are more or less laser-focused on that sense of vibe more than anything else, and thinning everything else out to adhere to that doesn’t help anything in the long run. It’s pretty much as simple as it gets on all fronts, basking in the laidback energy of summer while channeling that into a fairly straightforward lyrical direction to hold on to that youthful pivot for as long as possible, and glazed-over beds of synths that stay at least six foot from any harsh tones at all times. It’s all perfectly pleasant and fits Lydia’s vision well, but it all just kind of exists with little consequence beyond that. Simplicity might be it’s selling point, but when it’s blurred as much as it is, it can be hard to appreciate even that.
But again, compared to botched attempts at arena-pop that the bigger bands currently feel obliged to make, Lydia’s low-key dalliances into indie-pop feel so much more focused and well done. The standout moments actually look to do something a bit more malleable for one, like the pop-country rollick of Lie To Me or the sandy shuffle of Let It Cover Me Up, but even in its primary form of washed-out synthpop atmospherics, the ease at which Liquor engulfs immediately offers more than the latest stiff, trap-inspired non-starter. Tracks like Sunlight and Gypsy coast by on lush, languid waves that weave through the light around them, while Leighton Antelman subdues his vocals ever so slightly to keep any edges nice and smooth. It’s a remarkably well-crafted album, keeping its equilibrium at all times with minimal fumbles.
And sure, it’s probably not going to stick around for long – doubly so when the summer months end – but given some of the utter garbage the rock-to-pop transition line has offered, to see a band pull off a competent effort is nothing to sniff at. If that overall quality was a bit higher then Liquor would probably be viewed less optimistically, but as it stands, Lydia have made a fine album that does everything its intended to, and you can’t really fault them too harshly form that.
For fans of: The Summer Set, Echosmith, Fickle Friends
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Liquor’ by Lydia is released on 13th July on Weekday Records.