For the last several years, I have composed a top-25 albums of the year list. It started as a professional obligation, and now I just do it for fun. I enjoy it. However, invariably, I will stumble upon an album after the fact, sometimes even a few years later, and I kick myself. Had I heard the album in time, it would have surely made my top 25 list. As the old saying, and the headline of this article, goes, though, better late than never. And that’s why I’m here to tell you that, had I heard it in 2016, I would have probably had Sleepyhead by Lala Lala in my top 10 albums of the year.
If you aren’t familiar, Lala Lala is the project of musician Lindy West. Last year, she released her second album, and her first on a label, The Lamb. Spotify recommend a couple songs from that album for me, because they know what I like (because they track my every listening move). I liked the songs I heard, although they kept pushing “Water Over Sex” on me even though it’s far from the best song on The Lamb. At the time, though, I didn’t go back and listen to her self-released debut Sleepyhead. Needless to say, I’m glad I amended that.
It is a little odd to listen to Sleepyhead after The Lamb. A lot of The Lamb is about West getting sober. That’s what “Water Over Sex” is about. So the fact that the first line on Sleepyhead‘s best song, “Fuck With Your Friends,” is “I drink more than I want to” feels particularly poignant in hindsight. Of course, the line from the song that has lodged itself in my brain is when she screams “And also I love cigarettes!”
This is a lo-fi album, but in a great way. The ramshackle charms are what hooked me it. It’s infectious and raw, and she’s got a way with lyrics. I find myself listening to Sleepyhead quite a bit, whereas The Lamb hasn’t made my regular rotation outside of a couple standout songs (such as album opener “Destroyer”). Luckily for all of us, Hardly Art, the company that put out Lala Lala’s second album, has re-released the previously self-released Sleepyhead. Anything to get it more love. There’s something special in West’s music. I’m curious to see where she goes next, and I’m happy to have seen where she started.
Some art is born from pain. This is not an universal truth – some art …