Clue To Kalo

Lily Perdida

(Mush; 2008)

By Colin McGowan | 26 January 2009

No, I don’t know Clue To Kalo outside of what a press kit has told me, but, yes, this is elevator music for indie kids, pretty and slight in all the right places, ultimately, like all decent art, nothing more than the sum of its adequate parts: a static record, diminishingly enjoyable with each listen. Lily Perdida does itself no favors by grasping the same sugary thread throughout, being uniformly okay, and seemingly okay with its okay-ness. It’s vaguely melancholy, but too self-satisfied to be sad. Which leads me to wonder: why does this exist? It surely does. I know I’ve listened to it, many times, but the experience is a conversation with an unremarkable companion. There are highs, sure; I can get a chuckle out of the most mundane conversations, but after fifteen minutes have passed—wait, who’re you again?

You see where I’m going with this. I don’t hate this because it’s not bad. Creed makes me retch, and Make Believe (2005) is ipecac, but Conor Oberst is just squarely lame. Our beige reality is that a lot of music is wallpaperly negligible, the thing being I’m in the business of occasionally sifting through that sea of “meh,” tacking numbers and criticisms to it.

That golden dick joke in the boring conversation above presents itself here as “All’s Made Meaning,” all clattering JAMC-ness and warmth. It is the best representation of a tried sound, and what makes it good also makes the rest of the record less good: the trouble of a template approach that has a defined ceiling and floor. So here are crackly cooings, miniature, dancing pianos, and vocal interplay. And, kudos, it works as well as one might imagine, as pleasant as any star in the sky, but ultimately lacking any discernible identity. Songs like “It’s Here The Story’s Straight” inflate like a medium-sized bubble, neither popping nor expanding, just floating away into forgetful innocence.

So, um, good? Yeah, but in the same way grilled cheese sandwiches are. Commenting on this stuff isn’t as interesting as the comments it makes unintentionally—stoner quandaries about trees falling in the forest emitting sounds or some such, arguing with physics majors about it; if intoxicated enough, arguing with yourself. That’s at least somewhat compelling. Which points to the void here: there is no affliction. The chords shimmer, the vocals are smooth, and the lyrics are vaguely wistful. If there is any argument, the argument is that Clue to Kalo makes sorta somber music, and I’ve already escaped to the bar to pour myself another drink, but if I were still listening, I’d probably agree.