Under Review


You Want It Real

(Mint Records); 28/02/2020

Krystal Paraboo

If you reside in Vancouver and consider yourself an expert in the local music scene, then you are bound to have heard of lié. The band has been a staple in the scene since their emergence in 2013, including opening for the likes of Cloud Nothings. To better grasp lié, imagine The Distillers and The Cure giving birth to a trio of women who effortlessly uphold the garnishment of post-punk music.

lié revitalizes the darkest cult of the ‘80s, with an underlying essence of female truculence in their latest album You Want It Real. The eight songs are diverse in composition, ranging from dynamic dance rhythms, to intrinsic fast-paced punk riffs. The album’s experimental nature allows for an authentic cold punk arrangement that is bound to attract alternative rock lovers across the board. 

You Want It Real opens with playful bass strums that introduces the first track “Digging in the Desert.” Minimal synth bleeds in, followed by a drum break by Kati J that sets the conceptual tone for the album. The energy reaches its maximum in the third track, “Bugs.” Guitarist Ashlee Luk doesn’t miss a beat as she shreds her way across the entire two minutes. Even as Kati J slows it down, Luk maintains her fast, high frequency electrical shreds that dazzle the ears and invigorate the body. It becomes apparent that the drums and guitar are constantly flirting, each testing new boundaries of their relationship. The undeniable chemistry of this partnership does not cease to succumb to the modes of experimentation. This becomes more obvious when you listen to the album’s second single, “Drowning In Piss.” The quick-paced guitar riffs indicative of traditional punk have found a romantic balance with synthesized accompaniment in the drums and varying crescendos from the disjointed, lyrical rasps of Brittany West.

Despite the first six tracks providing head banging sensations, it is “Fantasy of Destructive Force” that reinforces the album’s decompression. lié abandons another potential dance number for a more stripped-down confrontation of raw strumming. 

“Why so hostile? / Why don’t you leave me alone? / Why so hostile? / Why don’t you need me anymore? / Why so hostile? / Can’t you give me a smile?” West delivers different renditions of the song’s lyrics with a nonchalant elicitation of acceptance whilst exuding criticism. Even as the tempo picks up during the chorus, West maintains the tone allowing for consistency in the track’s experimentation.

The transitions between tracks are not disconnected despite the variance in sound, as there is the continual conspicuous display of female demagogues, honouring lié’s preceding reputation. If there is one element to focus on, it would be digesting You Want it Real in the context of their environment as women; not only as women established in the punk scene, but navigating a patriarchal society at large as self-identifying women who are intentionally resisting social hierarchies. The lyrics exude confidence in womanhood as they call out and command respect, forcing acknowledgement and accountability. But what makes them different from the likes of other women in punk goes beyond the powerful, anarchic presence; it’s their deliberate connection to embodying the laws of art making with the intent of preserving their values through experimentation, and taking up space.