Say Lou Lou – Lucid Dreaming – Review

John Preston

Say Lou Lou is Miranda and Elektra Kilbey, twin sisters who were raised by an impressive musical family in both Sweden and Australia.

Say Lou Lou’s musical lineage can be traced back to 2000 – a time when All Saints were on ‘Pure Shores’ and dreaming up ‘Black Coffee’, and Madonna was being produced by William Orbit and making ambient pop songs.

The sisters need to watch they don’t go too far back though, or they could bump into Dido. Meanwhile, their promo shots bear more than a passing resemblance to that of disco duo Bacarra (Google it).

Put another way, their sound is a merging of minor key harmonies, soft synth chords, and just a smidgeon of seventies euro-disco. Not to mention lots of sadness.

Say Lou Lou love a mid-tempo melancholic sigh, and their disillusionment seems to ask why, if everything is perfect, do they feel so beige? Lucid Dreaming indeed.

The Kilbey sisters have been putting out songs since 2012, and over half of the tracks here have already been officially released. It’s understandable that they would want to include two or maybe three of these older tracks, but six feels like overkill when the quality of some of these are not among their strongest.

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‘Beloved’, one of their best compositions to date, is an obvious highlight and pulls on their strengths of strong choruses and muted beats – with a palpable disappointment floating to the top.

The same applies to ‘Julian’, which sounds a lot like Natalie Imbruglia on her Left of the Middle album, with its fatalistic promise of all things being fine ‘once we’ve got across the border’.

A welcome respite from the pinky-grey hues that adorn the majority of Lucid Dreaming comes with the iridescent and cantering ‘Games for Girls’. A collaboration with nu-disco maestro Lindstøm, it has a beautifully simple trick of slyly introducing unexpected genres: a house bassline, a disco cowbell, handclaps and a plinkity-plonk electro-pop synth hook. Here the sisters’ vocals are flirty and fun, and the song itself is one of the best pop moments of the last 12 months.

The disorientating, wobbling synth of ‘Glitter’, a new track, is also bright and appropriately fluorescent, but undercut with aloof and detached vocals whispering sordid deals:

‘Pin someone against the wall, dial the number make the call … all that glitter, all that foreign gold’.

It’s a clandestine and sleekly glamorous world which Say Lou Lou allow us an all-too-brief glimpse into.

The remainder and majority of the newer tracks are crammed into the final quarter of the album, and are on either side of current single ‘Nothing But a Heartbeat’.

‘Wilder than the Wind’ and ‘Hard for a Man’ are both pleasant mid-tempo meanderers with only the final minute of ‘Hard for a Man’, like a coolly inhaling and failing robot, providing something genuinely interesting and odd.

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This leaves power-ballad ‘Skylights’ as the album closer. ‘Skylights’ manages to incorporate both an introverted ‘donk’ sound and a full orchestra, and in doing so almost makes up for the lack of a decent song.

Say Lou Lou have deployed a slow drip-drip approach with the buildup and eventual release of Lucid Dreaming and now that it’s here it feels more like a collection of attempted and polite, cohesive tones rather than the deliriously lush and eerie dream-pop (there I’ve said it) that many surely have been anticipating.

About John Preston

South London based music obsessive with strong opinions about most things. Doubts Madonna has another good record in her but would love more than anything to be proved wrong.