Their first full-length in seven years, Our Inventions is the fourth album by Lali Puna, who live in Munich, but hail from Weilheim in Oberbayern, a small city in southern Bavaria. As a review of their first album Trirecorder noted, Weilheim is the Olympia, Wash., of Bavaria, and at the very least in Lali Punaís case, the analogy is apt. Valerie Trebeljahrís soft-spoken, breathy vocals weave effortlessly around Markus Acherís simple, undiluted pop ó simple and undiluted in the sense that it grabs one very hard in the gut. While the analogy with Olympia might be used to evoke the community of musicians there, I think the kind of pop K Records is known for is the real comparison -- simple songs that hit at a basic, emotional level. If anything though, the preciousness that seems endemic to a lot of Olympia music is lacking, and instead Lali Puna opt for bliss.
Bliss pop is a good classification. While the constant need to classify is a bit of a silly remnant of the rationalist impulses of Western culture, there is something in Lali Puna thatís more than just simple pop. God knows that just throwing some nice chords and pleasant singing together doesnít make a compelling song, even if it hits the music theory structures itís supposed to hit. Thereís certainly an overwhelming glut of groups that think pop is pop and, without imagination or emotional honesty, just mechanically grind something out. That isnít to say that groups like the ones Iím describing (no naming names ó just subscribe to a couple of music blogs and listen to a sampling of whatís being produced) are doing this cynically, just that itís rare to find pop music that isnít just going through the motions.
What Lali Puna does, and itís very apparent on Inventions, is to really use the simplicity of pop for all itís worth. Thereís a distinction here between a simple song ó a song that is rough or boring or lacks ingenuity ó and a song that uses simplicity as a purposeful aesthetic choice. Pop songs that use the latter have this very blissful quality to them. Thereís something very emotionally pure about their use of simplicity, and that purity comes through in the music as it puts you in a narcohaze of euphoria.
Inventions is never overwhelming in its blissfulness. Well-measured and pleasing may sound like a backhanded compliment, but this is merely to point out Trebeljahr and Acherís compositional prowess, as they stand out in a vast crowd.