Review: Sea Lilies, Soonest (Tired as a Chicken, 2018)

Baltimore, MD's Sea Lilies are an impressive trio whose members have previously been involved with a few bands that I'm not familiar with (Dead Mechanical and Sick Sick Birds) and a few others that I quite enjoy (The Thumbs and the Pee Tanks). This six-song, 14-minute 12" EP is the group's second outing but their first physical release, and also the debut for bassist/vocalist Mike Hall's own Tired as a Chicken label.

I realize that it's still January, but less than five minutes into my initial listen of Soonest, I was basically 100% certain that this will be one of my favorite releases of 2018. The older I get, the more I'm continually drawn to memorable, well-written songs, and these are some great fuckin' songs. Phonetically singing along and playing multiple air instruments during the first listen is always the mark of a true standout, you know? I haven't been excited by much new music at all lately, but I've already listened to this EP at least six times in the past few hours—I finally had to turn it off to finish writing this crap, 'cause I kept getting distracted by just how much it rules.

By all means, please hear for yourselves below, but I'd say the material offers an almost weirdly perfect blend of angular, Dischord-styled post-hardcore/indie with little hints of emo and a rockin' catchiness that even borders on top-shelf—and mature!—pop-punk (I haven't seen any lyrics, but the bits I'm making out are indeed promising). Jangly but taut, melodic with bite, hooks with sincerity... it's just good, man. Really good.

If you're impatient and looking to be won over quickly, check out "With a Practised Motion," "Materials" (if 2:10 'til the end doesn't hit you, please leave: like, now), or "Pretty Sure":

I'm telling you, though, there's not a snoozer in the bunch. There's enough variety to where the tracks aren't all headed in the same direction, but it's not so diverse that it lacks cohesion.

As is always the case with a quality trio, ample breathing room showcases nice musicianship and interplay between instruments—bolstered by a killer recording, in this case. Just the right amount of aggressive grit; bright clarity and hard-hitting bass; warm, natural percussion; a balanced mix... have I mentioned how good this is?

The band's debut was rather solid, but this is a serious step up all around, and I'm absolutely lovin' it. The more I listen to it the more I'm starting to freak out, so... yeah, like I said: this is gonna be one of the best records of the year as far as I'm concerned. As with the vast majority of the music that I get super excited and nerdy about, it could very well go largely unnoticed, too, so do me a damn favor and help spread the word if you like what you hear, eh?

Grab Soonest as a name your price download via Bandcamp, or pre-order the 12" now. Vinyl should ship within a month or so...

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