The showroom inside the Moroccan Lounge isn’t much to look at. Not at first glance, at least. I remember thinking this as both Tangerine and Valley Hush, separate openers to Say Lou Lou on Wednesday night, wowed everyone in the contained, non-descript black cube. They more or less managed to do so on their dreamy musicianship alone.
That all changed, however, when the headliners, the twin daughters of The Church’s Steve Kilbey of Australia and Swedish artist Karin Jansson, appeared on stage. Still fresh on their post-hiatus tour, Say Lou Lou came out to “Ana,” the signature song off their sophomore full-length album Immortelle, the underlying theme of which is feminist power. Depending on your point of view, the artists’ femme fatale getups either undergirded that concept or contradicted it.
Framed by the jolting red bars of light that appeared to imprison them before sweeping upwards to blind all those gazing directly at them, whatever angel/devil, light/darkness dichotomy Miranda and Electra Kilbey were attempting–the effect was like waking up in the middle of the opening credits to a classic James Bond movie. That’s not hyperbole. That’s what the twins were going for and they nailed it.
In addition to trip-hop groups like Portishead, the young women drew a lot of their material from old cinema scores and name composers such as Bernard Herrmann of Alfred Hitchcock fame and Ennio Morricone who’s famous for his Spaghetti Western oeuvre with Sergio Leone, mixed with a synthetic touch. So anyone with an affinity for old movies, particularly of a retro suspense and action variety, should give this duo a shot.
When I asked fans around me what appealed to them most about the twins’ music, my inquiry was often met with similar adjectives, words like “moody” and “ethereal” that the same fans admitted didn’t really do the young women or their powerful stage presence justice. Whatever the right word or term is, it doesn’t appear to be lacking for female artists coming out of Sweden. Lykke Li is another one.
In addition to all their movie homages, much of what played Wednesday was a nod to their musical family, who they’re clearly very much in love with. It’s a nice thing to see coming out of a broken showbusiness home, the remnants of which in this case are divided by continents.
The first example came mid-set with “Under the Milky Way.”
“Part of the reason we’re here is because, who we are and what we do is because of this song. Our mother and father wrote this song together before they got divorced,” one of them said in preface.
“A loveless fascination under the milky way tonight…I wish I knew what you were looking for.”
Another tribute came after “Maybe You,” their first song. This one was “Phantoms,” an ode to their late grandfather.
“We think he is still here somewhere,” one of them said.
Put in those terms, it’s a pretty morbid commentary when you take the time to listen to some of those lyrics in front of the gothic-sounding strings.
“You’ve said you’d find your way back to me…And there’s nothing else I can believe…Tonight I find my way back to you…Tonight I find my way back to you.” It’s an emphatic banger nonetheless.
Before their final song of the night, they offered a contextualizing statement about everything from rediscovering their female autonomy to breaking free from creativity-constraining industry fingers. They referenced their recent hiatus, their need to move to LA to re-center after leaving Sony Columbia Records, and also how truly grateful they were to enjoy the turnout here.
The last song, “Beloved,” which appeared on 2015’s Lucid Dreaming, was a not so subtle “dig” at their former label. “Fuck the system. Made our own system and here we are…We thought we’d end on a song we wrote when we were with our old label. It was a ‘fuck you’ song to them and they didn’t realize. And they put it out, actually. This song is about them.”
“To who do you compare me…Recreate and mold me?…And frozen in that ambition…You scramp me up…Where is the soft in our league…They strip me up to fail me…I used to feel protection from your touch.”