The Lies’ vocalist Dale Shaw recently said that on his band’s impossibly eerie and dreary second full-length, he “decided to write 10 songs about 10 women in my life. I had no idea that results would be so bleak.” Sure enough, Resigned is so emotionally dismal that either he runs with the most downtrodden crowd of shady ladies or the glass is never anything but half-empty in his doom-and-gloom world. The bright side for the band’s black-clad fans, however, is that Shaw and his Bay Area mates aren’t too distraught to make some tragically beautiful and moving music out of such misery.
The result is an album so claustrophobic and thick with gothlike melancholia that the fivesome — with its punk-rock roots in Bonnot Gang, Heavens to Betsy and Weakling — is clearly still as Joy Division-obsessed as it was on 1999’s Underdogs and Infidels. And like that underrated debut, vintage keys, string-laden melodies and strangled emotions dominate Resigned’s arrangements and haunting atmospherics. It should be anything but surprising, then, that the Lies offer little relief throughout the album’s 40 ill-fated minutes.
The Lies also appear on the soundtrack to Charm, the first independent motion picture by two of the band’s members, Sarah Reed and Sadie Shaw.
Nearly 20 other acts contribute to the horror-flick’s score, including the Need, Aislers Set and various side projects with members of Unwound, Mocket and Emily’s Sassy Lime, among others. Engineered by the Fucking Champs’ Tim Green — who also produced Resigned — Charm is a disturbing and creepy-crawly collection of chilling instrumentals, experimental electronics and quirky space pop and punk that’s surprisingly coherent considering the musicians’ vast musical influences and styles.
No matter how impressive they are, though, neither Resigned nor Charm are about raising anyone’s spirits. As those who look to their record collection’s most hopeless and helpless music during down times know, however, sometimes it’s the bleaker the better.
E-mail Jimmy Draper at firstname.lastname@example.org.