Jun 11

Lilys: “Can’t Make Your Life Better”

Lilys -- Better Can't Make Your Life Better

Diagram of the rare “Volleyball” dialect of American Sign Language.

Some songs just put a smile on my face every time I hear them, and “Can’t Make Your Life Better,” from the similarly titled 1996 album, Better Can’t Make Your Life Better, by the Lilys, is one of those songs. The Lilys, basically a revolving band built around its only consistent member and primary songwriter, Kurt Heasley, have shown a tendency to morph from one style of music to another over the course of their albums, beginning in the early ’90s with “shoegazer,” My Bloody Valentine-style drone pop, but for a while in the late ’90s they focused their sights with pinpoint accuracy on a sound that was equal parts Kinks, Beatles, Byrds, Zombies, and the Who (and any number of lesser-known psychedelic bands from the ’60s). And not that they were merely copying those bands — they were able to distill those sounds into a modern setting and come up with something entirely their own.

Better Can’t Make Your Life Better is full of great songs, but “Can’t Make Your Life Better” would have to be the high point for me. Beginning with a xylophone intro that alone makes the song, it quickly shifts into high-energy overdrive, with Heasley’s simultaneously rushed-yet-lazy singing style (hard to imagine that not being completely contradictory, but I think you’ll see what I mean as you listen) being the central focus. The song goes through several phases, full of varied dynamics, always keeping the listener on his/her toes (and always keeping those toes tapping, of course). I can imagine the song in the soundtrack for an arty late ’60s movie as easily as I can see it in a modern Wes Anderson-style movie. Not sure why I’m thinking soundtracks here . . . I guess “Can’t Make Your Life Better” just has that immediate, our-hero-jumps-in-his-car-and-races-off-to-take-action-against-the-thing-that’s-been-tormenting-him kind of vibe to it. Or something. But whatever, it’s a damn catchy song, in any case.

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