Californian Lissie Maurus worked a number of jobs before breaking into the music industry. Such jobs included working at Urban Outfitters and more recently working as a honey seller on a farmer’s market. She has come a long way since then.
After being heralded as the number one best new solo artist by Paste Magazine in 2010, Lissie went on to release her first album Catching A Tiger. She later crafted a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way which made its way onto a Twinings tea advert, and contributed backing vocals to a Robbie Williams record.
Earlier this year, Lissie released Shameless, the lead single from her second effort, Back To Forever. It featured one of the most candid takes on modern celebrity culture you will hear in a contemporary pop song. It was one of the rare tracks which managed to blend controversial subject matter with accessible lyrics and infectious, stadium-ready refrains. Shameless fiercely attacked the prurient nature of celebrity culture, especially the public image of successful female artists. The sheer audaciousness of the lyrics were a rarity in conventional pop music. “So take a shot for free and Photoshop the bits of me that you don’t want” were not the lyrics you’d expect spouting out from someone who’d provided the soundtrack to a teabag advert.
After Shameless, Back To Forever takes a very different turn. Starting with Pretenders-ish guitars on The Habit, the album quickly gets into full swing. What was acoustic indie folk on Catching A Tiger is now powerful open chord rock, complete with louder choruses. It is easy to be fooled by the more upbeat change of direction, but there are still darker messages in the lyrics of some of the album tracks. For example, in the summer-soaked groove of the second single Further Away (Romance Police), Lissie begs the question: “Does anyone love anyone anymore?”
Most of the other tracks on the LP aren’t nearly as exciting to hear as the first two singles. The sleepy ballad of They All Want You will leave most listeners reaching for the skip button. The reflective Can’t Take It Back sounds like a live Ellie Goulding session which has been switched up a notch – and not in a good way. The sheer amount of sappy ballads on the album even makes Shameless seem like it doesn’t belong on it.
I Don’t Want To Go To Work is a poor attempt at making a song with a chorus which sounds as universal as its subject matter: being drunk at a bar at 2AM on a weeknight and not wanting to go to work the next day. If this song is the soundtrack to your working day, than it is little wonder that you might not want to go to work. The record is full of songs littered with simple lyrics which are plagued with banality. For example on Love In The City, Lissie coos: “I think there is something wrong with my heart, I feel like it’s been taken apart.”
They say that first impressions of people are often wrong. One could say the same of Back To Forever as a whole album, after hearing the brilliant Shameless or Further Away (Romance Police).