I Want the Door to Open by Lala Lala review – ambition and reinvention

By Emily Mackay
Lala Lala.
‘Inner vision’: Lillie West, AKA Lala Lala. Photograph: Michael Schmelling

The voice of London-born, Chicago-based songwriter Lillie West, urgent with the need to be not just heard but understood, is clearer and more articulate on this dramatic departure of a third album than on the fuzzy, lo-fi slacker indie of her first two, Sleepyhead and Lamb.

Her lyrical self-analysis has changed too, from wry, deprecating one-liners to a more effortful inner vision, a desire to metamorphose. The sounds that birth this new Lala Lala are suitably watery: Lava eases you in with flutters of textured voice and fuzz, little flourishes of sax and reverb-ripping plinks of piano, dreamy with oceanic feeling. Lead single Diver finds West “swimming out towards my new life, dragged in by the undertow”, but fighting clear with a punchy, poppy chorus and bright fanfare of brass.

Beyond the waves, the heart of the album is dream pop with light-touch beats. The organ-decked Photo Photo is graced by austerely folkish harmonies from Chicago guitar duo Ohmme, while indie elder statesman Ben Gibbard brings the beacon of his clear-depths voice to the hushed, small-hours feel of Plates. It’s an impressive display of ambition and reinvention, all the more dramatic because singer-songwriters in Lala Lala’s previous, Liz Phair-ish incarnation are 10-a-penny. Now that door is open, she could go anywhere.

Watch the video for Diver by Lala Lala.

What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.