Pictured on the cover of Lia Mice’s just released new album I Love You is a classic car with its roof caved in, as if it did a 360 in an accident or had a 1000 pound anvil dropped on it. What happened to the car isn’t important, but the state that it’s in is telling, this because Mice’s music has hints of classic French pop, vintage disco — and other old school makes and models — but they’re all a bit distorted, so to speak, as if the proverbial anvil was dropped on them after they were made. Well, it turns out the album was recorded in three days but then Mice and her producer spent another week and a half experimenting with the songs, Mice being a big fan of experimental ’60’s pop who wanted to see how far she could push her songs without tainting their core sound.
The story behind I Love You is almost as interesting as the album itself. Mice had left her native Australia, moving to Brooklyn, New York. But in October 2012, just after she’d finished a European tour, she was prepared to fly back to Brooklyn but Hurricane Sandy threw a monkey wrench in her plans, her flight canceled. Instead of hanging out at the airport for days awaiting another flight, Mice decided to kill some time writing songs at a friend’s place in Lyon, France. It was only a week before she made the decision to stay there permanently.
The album opens with a moody number called “Our Heavy Heart,” which features throbbing bass with a somewhat menacing texture and a melancholic hum that sounds straight out of a David Lynch movie. In contrast, Mice’s warm if not uppity voice reveals the influence of classic French pop singers like Jane Birkin and Francoise Hardy. “Our heavy heart will beat again,” she promises. If Serge Gainsbourg were still alive today, he might be writing songs like this.
Mice recently released a video for “Our Heavy Heart” that shows her walking around Lyon, posting signs about a missing pet snake. But we see her posed with this snake while she sings the choruses, reminding us of the happy times you might take for granted until something — like a pet — is lost. Mice has explained that she overcame a lot of fear while writing the album, as it was the first time she had written without any collaborators, and the idea to use the snake in the video stemmed from this idea of overcoming fears.
“Lucky Bamboo” follows and is a much brighter song, with gorgeous, bright synths, bouncy if not entirely playful beats and a lovely, ethereal vocals. In some respects, it’s like the exact opposite of “Our Heavy Heart,” establishing the fact that Mice does not write the same song twice. During the next track, “We Live Out Of Sight,” there are some slightly dark sounds, but mostly what we have is a throwback to ’80’s new wave with it’s snappy old drum machine beats and, dare I say, groovy bass guitar.
Listening to “Memory Maps,” one can’t help but think of El Perro Del Mar and her bright, airy brand of pop with angelic vocals. But the programmed elements are more like Bat For Lashes, to which end Mice is like a hybrid of these two artists, though it must be said that she’s truly an original on par with both of these talented women in her own right.
Two of the album’s strongest tracks, “All The Birds” and “The Nights Were For Exploring,” evoke The Raveonettes, the former in the vein of their recent art pop output like “Boys Who Rape” and “Ally, Walk With Me,” and the latter in the vein of their earlier ’60’s girl group inspired music.
Although I Love You is a very cohesive album, its songs all fitting together like pieces of an awe-inspiring puzzle, it’s also an eclectic one where no two songs sound alike, Mice’s voice being the common thread that weaves them all together beautifully. Ultimately, I Love You makes you wish more artists would keep pushing their songs in different directions even after they thought they were done.
Watch the video for “Our Heavy Heart” on Entertainment Weekly: http://music-mix.ew.com/2014/10/13/lia-mice-our-heavy-heart-video/