There are many bands that inexplicably come up every time they release a new record or material of some kind, only for the sole fact that the common music consumer can bash them over the internet and forget what makes them artists in the first place. Lydia, although not the epitome of this problem, is an example of one of these bands. After a difficult career, the members of Lydia and musical driving force Leighton Antelman are tired of hearing about it. We get it. Music changes, and that’s exactly what Leighton & co. did with this new record, Devil.
Devil is upbeat, sunny, and cheery. This time around, there was much more group input going into the writing of the record, and it shows. As a whole, the songs contain an energy not felt in some time from their camp. “The Exit” kicks off the record in real rock and roll fashion, as Antelman’s smooth croon leaves the ground while an entourage of fluttery keys, harmonies, and acoustic guitars back him up. He exudes his usual confidence, although this time it is accessible in a way it hasn’t been since Illuminate, I think. Vocally, it is on point and gorgeous. Rhythmically, the drumming and guitars/bass do what they’re supposed to do and essentially the songs are all around the same tempo. Matt Keller brings a very interesting and poppy element to the record with his use of synthesizers (“Take Your Time,” “From a Tire Swing,” “Devil”), but they work very well not being played up at the forefront.
Every song is built on a solid hook, some more catchy than others, but overall equally enjoyable across the board. “Runaway,” a pop lover’s delight, features scores of background vocals backing up the insanely catchy chorus. This is a real pop record, and short of electronic beats, it’s all there. That is bound to turn people off, but coinciding with my statement from the first paragraph, it really doesn’t matter. Lydia is still making great music, and that’s evidenced by every song on this record. “Knee Deep” is a super fun head bobber, while “Back to Bed” is musically beautiful and works as one of the record’s best songs (listen for the quirky whistling melody at the end of the track).
Lyrically, there are numerous references back to earlier works, notably in “Back to Bed” with “Then the words came right from my lips/And went right through her eyelids/You’ve got to tell me, what’s it going to be Hailey,” going back to Paint It Golden. Like usual, the lyrics are witty and romantic, but also “devilish” in the apropos places. “Holidays” is another one that lyrically stands above a few of the other songs. Overall, there isn’t anything you’ll want to miss on this record. Every song delivers and is consistent with the “windows down, music up” attitude.
So when it comes down to the fact of the matter, Lydia did what they wanted to do and it worked out for them. Was it intentional? Obviously. Overall, this record is fun and enthusiastic, witty, charming, and lovable – exactly as they would have wanted it. Inevitably, it will have some haters over time as it is quite different from previous releases, but isn’t that what progression is? It clearly doesn’t bother them now, and with this record it looks like it won’t in the future either.