Lush synth-pop has been back on the indeed scene for some time now. It’s easy to dismiss the styling of the main purveyors as simply retro. But Alex Lilly, an LA-based song stylist and keyboardist best known as a singer for indie pop band The Bird and the Bee, mashes up Burt Bacharach with Serge Gainsbourg, churning out an improbable mixture of sonic bliss and real melodic sense on Capades, Obi Best’s first release.
It’s an excellent introduction to this talented artist’s gifts.
Obi Best crafts lush, orchestral, yet small and intimate stylish pop. Lilly paints a sophisticated canvas of overlapping vocals laid on a wispy backbeat with thick layers of fuzzy rhythms and trebly keyboards. It’s ethereal, yet not too pastoral. We’re not talking Boards of Canada; it’s more Stereolab than that.
“Nothing Comes Between Us Now” is an uptempo number that showcases Lilly’s strengths as a songwriter while “Green and White Stripes” is easily the catchiest number here, brimming with an insanely evocative chorus. Lilly lists Kate Bush as a vocal idol, and I can see how her presence is channeled but Lilly has a phrasing that’s all her own.
“Who Loves You Now” creeps along at a downtempo beat, spiced with a sugary melody and Lilly’s light vocals, yearning ever so gently for happiness. It’s a song that draws you in with it’s duplicitous simplicity. There’s always more going on than you first hear.
Sure it’s easy to get lost in the lack of hard-edged hooks. Turn your attention for a couple moments and you may wander in and out of a couple of the songs without realizing you’re halfway done. After all, pop is at its heart short snappy hooks with a couple chords. Obi Best are a long way from the rank-and-file power popsters, owing more in common to bands like Royksopp and Hello Stranger.
But they are part of that musical tradition that demands a couple listens to fully get into their songs. It’s worth it.
Capades is available for digital download at Itunes