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Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Mod-ern Popsounds

Posted By on Wed, Jul 21, 1999 at 12:00 AM

The very lighthearted and sophisticated pop of The 3 Way is the culmination of the Lilys’ seven-year love affair with the best of the British music scenes – from the coolly grooving Mod days of the mid-’60s to the circa-1991 shoegaze days best mimicked in their debut, In the Presence of Nothing. The group’s founder and sole constant member, Kurt Heasley, could deny his Anglophile addiction, but why bother? From the rollicking opening track, "Dimes Make a Dollar," to the campy "A Tab for the Holiday," Heasley’s crafted a collection of songs that the Kinks or the Zombies would be proud to call their own. However, the Lilys are more than pseudo-Brit, mod wannabes.

Although classically structured and obsessively detailed – did someone say Brian Wilson? – The 3 Way is refreshingly modern and encapsulates the brighter side of today’s bubbly pop sounds favored by such bands as St. Etienne and Belle & Sebastian. Selective use of organ, strings, flute and piano, tempo variation and strong pop melodies bring to mind Cinerama and the little known Diggers on the more whimsical songs such as "The Lost Victory," "Socs Hip" and "And One (On One)." There is even an unexpected Stereolab essence: Heasley’s falsetto vocals will vaguely remind you of ’Lab’s Laetitia Sadier, especially on the grooving "Leo Ryan (Our Pharoah’s Sister)." The laid-back Farfisa opening to "The Spirits Merchant" will have you reaching for that album cover to confirm that these are our very own, homegrown Lilys. The 3-Way works on either side of the pond.

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