Cell phones that need a smile to unlock. School shootings catching more airtime on the nightly news than good deeds. Pollution masking over a pristine sky and reminding us of the damage society is doing to the earth every second we play ignorant to reality. We’re living in an era that tests us on a daily basis, and Lily Vakili describes the culture of chaos we’ve created for ourselves all too pointedly in her band’s new single, “Facial Recognition Technology.”
Being trapped in the house for the past month under quarantine, I’ve had the chance to hear a lot of great indie artists making waves in the underground this year, but few have left as big an impression on me as Lily Vakili Band and their latest release did just this past week. “Facial Recognition Technology” isn’t a punk rock song – in fact, it feels kind of retro in its classic stylization of a familiar stomping beat – but it’s as an incendiary a tune as fans could ask for this spring. A lyrical stick of dynamite outfitted with a few well-chosen sonic bells and whistles, this single/video combo is top tier rock n’ roll for certain.
open.spotify.com/album/0xfzob7x9mH0ajzKl7AgDo?si=oTOqj0uoTRim8VRIDc71Lg Facial recognition technology Doesn’t know me at all Is it a brave new world …
The music video for “Facial Recognition Technology” is as inspiring and relentlessly evocative as its source material is, and I particularly like that Vakili didn’t see the need to weigh down the visuals with a lot of props and plasticized allusions to the narrative. The percussion is the only conservative point in the entirety of the mix; positioned as to balance the dueling between our singer and the bassline, it serves its purpose well by staying out of the spotlight more than it ever tries stealing it away. There’s a strong political undertow to every word that Vakili sings in this song, but I don’t think it leans too far in either direction for both progressives and moderates to find something to relate to in its verses. “Facial Recognition Technology” isn’t a shot at any one adversary – it’s a message about where we’re at as a people, and perhaps even more importantly, what we should be valuing above all else this season.
If you’ve never listened to Lily Vakili Band prior to now, I would say that this single is probably the best introduction to her sound that you can get your hands on in 2020. Vakili wears her heart on her sleeve without holding back in this song, and though it’s hard to picture this being the only hit she records in her time in the headlines, it’s definitely a highpoint of her young career thus far. Political rock has been most everywhere we look in the last three years or so, but there isn’t anything about “Facial Recognition Technology” that would imply it was made purely with the intention of cashing in on a popular theme in contemporary music. This is Lily Vakili being herself to the max, and I for one am deeply taken with who she is at this stage of the game.