Lilies On Mars: Dot To Dot
Saint Marie Records

Having ended 2013 on a high with the release of Orange Yellow Red's A Rose Made of Galaxies and Scarlet Youth's The Everchanging View, Saint Marie Records appears intent on maintaining the high level of those two with its first album of the new year, Lilies On Mars' stellar Dot to Dot. It's not the maiden voyage by Lilies On Mars' Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo, however, as the duo previously issued an eponymously titled debut in 2008 and Wish You Were a Pony in 2011. A late-2013 teaser offered a foretaste of the new album in the form of a three-track EP featuring the group's “Dream of Bees” accompanied by two remixes, one an audacious classical-styled makeover by cellist Julia Kent.

The forty-three-minute album receives a significant boost from the powerful drumming of Valentina Magaletti, while Masia and Cristofalo beef up Lilies On Mars' multi-layered sound with electric guitars, vintage organs, and synthesizers. The head-spinning “Dream of Bees” sounds as magnificent in the album context as on the EP, especially when the song comes wrapped in a production treatment that intensifies the music's psychedelic-shoegaze swirl. The trippy vibe carries over into “SIDE ABCD,” which sees an organ and wordless vocals swooning in a state of blissed-out delirium, and “So Far Dear America,” which alternates between episodes of seductive serenity and hard-charging guitar dissonance. Elsewhere, “No Way” oozes a warm, ‘60s pop vibe, and Masia and Cristofalo mix things up by stitching two experimental instrumental vignettes (“Interval 1” and “Interval 2”) in amongst the songs.

“Entre-Temps” and “Oceanic Landscapes” suggest that Broadcast, Cocteau Twins, and Stereolab might be considered kindred spirits to the London-based, Sardinian outfit, with all of them intent on filling the air with ethereal, retro-futurist dreampop. One detail bears worth emphasizing: Lilies On Mars' songs are more pop than shoegaze, even if a tinge of the latter is present in the album's hazy production design. Regardless, the group's music sounds good whether filling the room at maximum volume or flooding one's ears via headphones; if anything, the latter might be the best way to listen to Dot to Dot given that all the nuances and instrumental touches are better able to be heard when the thirteen songs are listened to up close.

February 2014