Lila Rose released one of my favourite albums of 2012 “Heart Machine” and returned in 2015 with her follow up album “We Animals”. What made me initially love her first album was the interplay between vocal, drum and piano. For the follow up the piano has all but been removed and We Animals as an album takes a more percussive pop route. Minimalistic in some ways, animalistic in others. It took me a few listens to adjust and feel the vibe Lila was going for second time around but I’m so glad I gave it time to settle – it’s a gem of an album.
“Stars” is one of the most melodic tracks on the album with finger picked guitar riffs lurking like a witch behind Lila’s haunting voice that switches from light and serene verses to shaman like choruses in a lower register. It introduces the concept of the drum and beat being the centre of the musical push and is backed up with the bass. “Tracking” switches the acoustic guitar for an electric one as marching feet create the beat and Lila brings her attacking voice to full effect. The simple but catchy motifs of each instrument have a cumulative effect to make it a cracking song and the same can be said for “Confessions” which is a brooding track that allows Lila Rose to show off her vocal abilities and she effortlessly rolls up and down the scales as a solitary thumb piano acts at the only not bass heavy instrument.
After the initial quiet, the storm comes in. “This Could Be Ha” is a power house of a track. The slow gravel beat erupts into a power chord chant of voice and guitar for the choruses as she shouts “this could be easy so go easy on yourself!” it really is a slow burning build up track. “Nothing To Lose” reminds me of Adam Ant in a way but more punk. Now the drums are layered and in stereo as the smash your brain and with the keyboards and guitars being twisted through chords and Lila’s voice being processed to sound electric, the track has such a power surge running through it, you can’t help but take action. “World on Fire” is also heavily reliant on bass and abstract brass synths that bring an oppressive heat to the track itself. The little chants at the end of the each chorus is what makes it for me.
“Now” is possibly my favourite track on the album as it’s where the angelic backing vocals that often puncture the previous songs take a front row seat and float around the entire track. There’s a beauty in the interplay between Lila is one ear screaming “now” and the other angelically oohing to create the melody. It also goes hand in hand with the angry “Servant” song which is another favourite. It’s a track that growls and barks at you while the cutest percussive stick march is playing out in stereo across your ears. It’s really catchy too – but the album as a whole is and just like her début, the album feels perfectly put together when you consider feel, production and the feeling it’s looking to evoke. There’s not a single instrument that sounds out of place to the ear and that’s a massive achievement.
The single ballad on the album brings the piano back. “Easy Love” is simple yet stunningly dramatic song. Throughout the album Lila’s voice has been powering through the lyrics and hear she chooses to sing vulnerably and each tremble in her voice can be heard. It’s lush. It’s quietly beautiful. It’s a lovely hark back to her roots. “Misunderstood” is also climatic with its middle eight being a giant drum roll and I enjoyed the role reversal of the choruses being left to linger quietly against more dramatic verses. The closing track is the titular “We Animals” and has a lovely string intro before heading into a dark choral territory in places and becoming the most layered track on the album with strings, guitars and synths all working beautifully to create a tribal pop apocalypse.
A tribal pop apocalypse is a very good album description. Whilst it hasn’t quite pipped the amazing “Heart Machine” this follow up is a real grower and each time I listen I discover something new to fall in love with. Her unique groove is strong and anyone whom enjoys indie pop or the darker side of pop will find something to love here.