Lilies on Mars

Dot to Dot

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AllMusic Review by

Lilies on Mars aren't as well-known as a group that has collaborated with artists as diverse and prominent in their fields as Fennesz and Franco Battiato could be, but Dot to Dot might change that. On the band's third album, Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo craft a set of songs that are significantly more polished than 2008's self-titled debut and 2011's Wish You Were a Pony. Both of those albums contrasted awkwardness and beauty with a particular -- and peculiar -- charm, but here they give the haze of their earlier work more focus. New drummer Valentina Magaletti plays a major part in this, helping tracks like "See You Sun" feel as much like adventures as pop songs and providing a loping backbone for Masia and Cristofalo's flights of fancy, which seem to use dream logic to determine where to go next. By contrast, "Dream of Bees" casts an enveloping haze that gives the feeling that the song is about to achieve liftoff at any moment. Here and throughout Dot to Dot, the trio delivers multifaceted and often fascinating dream pop that recalls many of the style's greats. "Impossible Child" boasts spun-sugar soprano vocals reminiscent of Lush's Miki Berenyi, "No Way"'s luminous keyboards and '60s pop-inspired beat evoke Broadcast, and "Sugar Is Gone"'s eerie longing underscores why Blonde Redhead is one of the band's main influences. Fortunately, while it may be easy to point out Lilies on Mars' roots, the way they express those sounds never feels too obvious or like a hodgepodge of other people's ideas. Elsewhere on Dot to Dot, Lilies on Mars prove they have plenty of ideas of their own: they warm up "Side ABCD"'s wintry pop with sighing choruses, bring the drama with "Oceanic Landscape," a duet with longtime collaborator Battiato, and show they haven't lost any of their experimentalism with more abstract moments like "Martians." Dot to Dot isn't just about connecting the dots within Lilies on Mars' sound; it also shows that the band is becoming more versatile and eloquent with each release.

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