Music can be many things to many people and often the reasons for an artist making music in the first place might not always be apparent to the listener, or indeed ever need to be. For Lillian Young, music acted as a focus for her attention and a tool to navigate the anxieties of life and the stresses that she felt in social situations. To the listener, it is, on the surface at least, just a great, modern pop album.
But listen deeper, start taking the lyrics on board and you find that you are listening to a young woman talking about the trials and tribulations of growing up in the modern world, one that she has trouble fitting into with ease. But lyrically this is presented in an easily accessible way, the words are engaging and relatable and fit perfectly with the music that drives things along. This is less a catalog of difficulties, more a friend quietly whispering in your ear and confiding in you. And in doing so, it is wonderfully honest, full of vulnerability, and confessional.
And musically it is a smart cookie too, a blend of minimalist pop and some slightly more alternative and indie weaves, and surprisingly mature with it. The title track kicks things off, setting the tone and musical texture perfectly, wandering between upbeat dynamics and reflective lulls. There are moments of quiet and soul-searching, such as the slow-grooving and sensual Red, there is cascading acoustic beauty with indie-folk-esque Few More Years, and a few more driven moments such as New Self.
To write a whole album that leans more toward the ballad, the minimalist, and the restrained, poised-pop sound might seem like an odd move, when it is the more immediate, in your face, high energy pop songs that are the easier sell. Well, I suspect that Lillian Young is aiming for the more discerning market rather than the followers of the latest fad, the bandwagons, the zeitgeist surfers who follow the fickle finger of fashion. There is more substance and longevity in one of Lillian’s songs than there is in a whole stack of current chart albums…not that people release albums much anymore.
If you are bored with the repetitive nature of pop, its derivative nature, and its cheap tricks and gimmicks, then Mindgames is the album for you.