Review of Lilou & John’s Iconoclastic by Joakim “Oskorei” Andersen from Motpol
The Swedish band Lilou & John have during their still quite young existence moved between musical genres with the same ease as the lyrics have moved between different themes. The band have made both intelligent indie songs and explosive punk rock without getting stuck in any genre, with the newest album Iconoclastic, time has come for the band to explore EDM, Electronic Dance Music, with well-chosen raids into the mythic realms of both italo pop and reggae.
A strength of Lilou & John is the ability to explore world views and perspectives and then depict them from within, without necessarily embracing them. Previous classics like Bataclan and Payback Day are examples of this. Iconoclastic begins with another such song, fateful Counter Jihad which is a poetic but at the same time night-black stream of consciousness. With text lines like “Rise again to war my bishop, Rise again from your black tomb” the thoughts are brought to the resurrected inquisition we encounter in some science fiction, appealing to some, horrifying to others. The vaguely industrial music and Lilou’s monotonous sermon-like voice together with the text form a dark whole, it is one of the album’s strongest songs.
Avanti Ragazzi di Buda
The song of the same name as the record is an interpretation of Italian Avanti Ragazzi di Buda, at the same time a tribute to the Hungarians who were killed by Soviet tanks and a timeless tribute to the Europeans who have stood up for their freedom. Here we move from suggestive industry to electronic rock, the move continues with the next track described as electro punk, The White Eagle. Here it is the Polish freedom fighters who are at the center, the text is poetic and the music is vigorously captivating.
Then we move into the domains of electro reggae, with rhythmic Pasokification. The text is a clever accusation against the late modern world, with lines like “I was born to work on this plantation, Is this what we call civilization, Atomized into this fragmentation, From woman into corporation, Gridlocked by commercialization, Endless waves of globalization”. Cheerful trumpets accompany the pasocification, i.e. the necessary and well-deserved demise of the European Social Democracy. This is one of my favorites.
The lounge track Bolsomito depicts in metaphorical form Brazil’s president as a jaguar in the rainforest. In company with Lilou & John we continue our journey through the Mediterranean music with cheerful Salvini Pop. It has an epic quality in the portrayal of Salvini’s rise, but at the same time a playfulness that should disarm each Salvini hater. Together with Pasokification, it is one of my favorites, the band could easily be inspired by the ska genre next.
Intelligent and fun
With the next track, Godwin’s Law, we get acquainted with the SJW mentality, but not confrontationally but with a distance that assumes that these people are not worth taking seriously. The song is short but captivating, the text accurate. The title derives from Mike Godwin’s observation in 1990 that a discussion that lasts long enough will always end in Hitler associations. The record is finally finished with USS Donald Trump, electro punk in march rhythm, where Trump is explored as a mythical archetype of both followers and enemies. The animal symbolism from Bolsomito here becomes sea-based, which is fun since the American empire is a thalassocratic sea power. It is again a good song.
Overall, this is a good record. The texts often have a poetic side and a depth, they address current themes but do not become tendentious. The music moves between genres but consistently it is captivating and easily accessible without being banal. Lilou’s voice comes to its right several times over, perhaps especially in Godwin’s Law and Counter Jihad. If you have followed the band’s development, it will all be extra rewarding. Counter Jihad and The White Eagle bring the thoughts to previous albums, while playful and cheerful songs like Pasokification and Salvini Pop hint a possible new direction. In short, Iconoclastic is highly recommended, regardless of how you look at the themes and thought-figures that are dealt with in the texts. We live in an era when music is either banal or tendentious, Lilou & John is a good example that something else, at the same time more intelligent and fun, is possible.