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Lily Vakili Band’s new single “Facial Recognition Technology”

If you haven’t already noticed simply by turning on the radio, protest-themed music has been making quite the comeback in the last four years. No matter what your political affiliation, it’s easy to understand why international turmoil is yielding great melodies – it always has, historically – and though Lily Vakili Band’s new single “Facial Recognition Technology” isn’t quite as charged as some its contemporaries are, it qualifies for the branding just the same. Lily Vakili unloads a ton of lyrical venom on us in this track, combining both punk-like rebelliousness with a sense of introspection and contemplation entirely foreign to most modern rock acts. Her words are seething but her heart is in the right place here, and for my money, “Facial Recognition Technology” is one of the slicker songs of its kind right now.

The lyricism in this single and its music video aren’t the only source of anti-establishment energy in the material. Instrumentally speaking, there’s a proto-punk element to the whipping volley between tempos that immediately grabbed my attention when I sat down to review “Facial Recognition Technology.” Though I’d stop short of saying that she’s trying to make a deliberate hybrid of styles here, Vakili is certainly taking an experimental approach to her songwriting in this track that I hadn’t heard her employ prior to now. It’s anthemic and a little abrasive, but it’s something I’m dying to see her play with a bit more in the future – and, preferably, in the context of a full-length sophomore LP.

Along with the vocals, the drums carry a lot of sonic depth in this mix, adding to the emotional pull of the narrative here enormously. There’s not a lot of excess room behind the bassline for the percussion to breathe, but truth be told, I don’t think it needs the additional space. Vakili’s voice already occupies a grand portion of “Facial Recognition Technology” both literally and artistically, and were it accented with any additional frills on the melodic end of the song, it wouldn’t be as forceful and hypnotic as it is in this instance. Some genuine thought and passion goes into making this woman’s work as brooding and spellbinding as it can be, and that’s clear to both connoisseurs and critical novices in this single.

Fierce but unfanciful, Lily Vakili Band’s “Facial Recognition Technology” is a song that indie fans really can’t go wrong with this April. While times might be a little tougher right now than we’re accustom to, artists like Lily Vakili are keeping hope and vitality alive from inside the studio – and doing a great job, I should add, in their efforts to stoke society’s cohesive flame. “Facial Recognition Technology” is a rebel cry if I’ve ever heard one before, but the irony is that, while it was born of an unavoidable divisiveness, I think it will bring people together more than it segregates them. Good music is something anyone can get into, and I believe this is precisely what we need now more than ever before.

John McCall

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