Dissidentica was the band’s second album and originated in a conflict with Swedish Radio who had refused to let the duo perform because of an article John had written that criticized identity politics. The album was therefore created in defense of free speech and was well received as a whole new approach to music. Before recording the album Lilou and John argued about the number of songs they should include. Lilou wanted to stick with five while John wanted to record a full album. Afterwards, John has admitted that he “perhaps should have listened to her, for it kind of went too fast and we didn’t have the time to make everything perfect.”
Citizen journalist blogger Projekt Morpheus compared the duo with Nina Simone and Buffy Sainte-Marie, while Motpol and Fria Tider wrote about the contrast between the pop melodies, the backbeat guitar, Lilou’s voice and the dark and tragic lyrics. African world music site Djolo on the other hand described the band as “sound UFOs”.
“Via Dolorosa” was written as a lament for a woman going through a painful divorce and the original name of the song was “End of a Marriage.” The melody and the music video was intentionally made in stark contrast with the lyrics to create an ambiguous song of mixed emotions. The song was made to highlight the complexity of love and loneliness.
The Girl from Antarctica
“The Girl from Antarctica” describes the torment of a girl suffering from child sex abuse and the confrontation with her parents. The song delivered the message that victims can choose to walk away from the perpetrators as adults. The song is based on Lilou’s experience as a child and she added the sad chorus to express her own emotions. The language is more direct than in most other of the band’s songs and that is intended to reflect the abused child within a woman delivering a straightforward message without poetry but only made up of honesty.
Next Year in Jerusalem
“Next Year in Jerusalem” is one of the band’s most famous songs and dives into the mythology of Israel’s early history, the 2000 year long Jewish diaspora and the dreams of Theodor Herzl. The song remains one of Lilou & John’s personal favorites despite it being less than two minutes long. “The beautiful lyrics and the catchy guitars combined into something I had never heard before so when I started singing it was just like floating 2000 metres above the ground” according to Lilou.
“Solferino” is one of the duo’s least known songs but still another one of their favorites. The setting is the battle of Solferino in 1859, during the War of Italian independence, “Risorgimento”, and was written to honor the memory of Henri Dunant who founded the Red Cross after that battle. The chorus tells of a woman lamenting her dying brother on the battlefield and the verses consist of him trying to comfort her, saying that death is more than we know. But words cannot comfort her. She is still alone when the morning is dawning on the fields of Solferino.
“Bataclan” dives into the mental constitution of an Islamic terrorist and his view of “the West”. Much of the skeleton comes from Sayyid Qutb’s understanding of American society and the teaching of the Muslim Brotherhood that saw “the West” as infested by crime, degeneration, blasphemy and selfishness. The song title comes from the massacre at the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 and the song was made both “to remember the victims of this pointless mass murder that so many seem to be willing to forget”, John says, but also to explain why these attacks happen. “As always, we write the songs to teach people something. Walk in these shoes for a while and try to understand what you see.” As of an eerie coincidence the album was released on the same day as the Stockholm terror attack on April 7.
“9/11” is a journey from the gas chambers of World War II, to the concentration camps of Siberia and the terrorist attack at World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. The backbeat guitar was used to create an catchy wrapping for the tragic text. The chorus was originally intended as a lament but Lilou’s voice turned it into a more powerful accusation against anyone who hides behind ideology to commit murder. It is in a way an attempt to understand a moralizing humanist attitude that – as sympathetic as it may seem – in some cases can prevent deeper understanding of the ideas behind genocide.
Spirit of America
“Spirit of America” originated as a poem John wrote as a post on the social network Gab, and quickly developed into a song. The chorus was intended to make the listener think of the migrant ships coming to New York harbor in the 19th century and the text deals with John’s perception of the complexity of the American Conservative Christian heritage and the concept of USA being “The promised land”.
“Payback Day” is the band’s signature song, and is by far the most popular song made by the duo. The song has aroused controversy due to its strong support for individual freedom and it is an attempt to describe the radicalization process among Libertarians, Conservatives and Nationalists that came out in the open after Donald Trump became American president in 2016. The song was also written as the band’s only real protest song as it criticizes the widespread misuse of derogatory vocabulary to dehumanize people.