Lala Lala


First of all: what a name for a project. Imagine all the songs in the world that have ‘lala’ in them, then thinking ‘I’m going to call my band that’ and sticking another ‘lala’ on the end of it and thinking ‘my work here is done’, and you’d be right in that thinking, your stellar band naming work would be done. That’s what Lille West did when she was forming her project Lala Lala, and let’s all be thankful she did. Hailing from Chicago, West released a lofi debut album Sleepyhead in 2016 before following up with the superb The Lamb late last year, making a surge for end of year lists as its charming indie pop wormed its way into listeners’ hearts – it certainly did with this one.

I first came across Lala Lala in the weekly ‘top 5 songs’ article American website Stereogum runs (check it out, it’s a great source of new bands) which featured the brilliant ‘Destroyer’, and all of a sudden an act who I’d never heard of were rocketed to the top of my anticipated releases list (don’t worry, this lives in my head, it’s not like I have a chart on my wall or anything…). The album did not disappoint, and so here I am to see West and her band tour said album in the basement of Yes – my first time in this blacked out subterranean space despite seemingly having been to Yes twice a week since it opened.

There’s no messing about – after setting up their own gear they’re into The Lamb highlight ‘Water Over Sex’, its aching, tender chords setting their sights on my heart strings, I’m instantly fully on board. During ‘Copycat’, which starts off with West solo before the band join in, West looks towards her bass player with a conspiring look on her face and they start to squat together before finishing the song completely laid down on stage alongside their guitarist, the drummer the only man left standing (sitting) and it’s kind of all sorts of adorable for no reason whatsoever.

We get the majority of cuts from The Lamb and as such the gig has a lovely flow to it, familiar songs given extra oomph by the live setting – ‘When You Die’ is huge, “Keep my friends safe night and day/Keep my friends safe now and always” repeated until ending in a full band blow out, and ‘I’ll Get Cut’, which is about a break in that West suffered whilst she was at home, is a soaring triumph. They play a couple of songs from Sleepyhead, with ‘Lala Song’ (hello Ronseal) gaining extra weight, and she debuts a new one with lyrics that include “sorry for being evil” but set to jaunty indie-pop, a great juxtaposition that promises much for forthcoming material.

The short set ends on an absolute high, with the aforementioned ‘Destroyer’ absolutely slaying, “you are the reason my heart broke behind my back” masked by a melody so strong it could find itself in a Rodgers and Hammerstein show. It’s followed by the swooning ‘See You At Home’, a song that could soundtrack scenes from Pulp Fiction, the guitars twanging in that 60s soul way, a saxophone in the background, West gently swaying as she cuts “and it’s already over/I release you from us both/goodbye, maybe forever/I’ll remember what she wrote”, the sax now soaring in sad desperation, a relationship done, the evening over.

It’s a short but perfectly formed set (and shout out to the guitarist and drummer who swap duties halfway through the set and then go back again, good work), a set that whets the appetite for more to come from West and her band. She joins a growing canon of brilliant indie pop acts that have blossomed over the last couple of years, and no doubt she’ll be at the forefront of the scene for the foreseeable.

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