Smoldering guitar strings. A menacing bassline. Drums thirsty for some vulnerable prey to trample. The velvety voice of a solid singer. These are all the right ingredients for making a potent rock song, and in Lily Vakili Band’s “Facial Recognition Technology,” they’re definitely put to use properly. Built on the back of a jagged rhythm that shifts between punky adrenaline and a hesitant blues march, “Facial Recognition Technology” is a progressive composition with a hard rock-style wallop that you don’t find on the radio very often these days, but I wouldn’t call it a throwback to some bygone era at all. Contrarily, because of Vakili’s focused, protest-inspired lyricism in this track, there’s nothing about its narrative – nor its composition – that feels even remotely retro. This singer/songwriter and her band have been gaining a lot of steam in the last couple of years, and here, she asserts herself not only as a talented frontwoman capable of doing whatever she wants when the feeling is right, but a conscientious poet who knows how to articulate bold statements simply (and beautifully).
Aside from the lyrics here, the riff that drives home the latter half of “Facial Recognition Technology” is definitely one of the focal points in the song. There’s so much intensity as we build into the faster portion of the tempo in this track, and while catharsis is never more than a chorus away, the tension in the music is definitely what makes this number so hard to get out of your head. The vocals, much like the instrumentation that accompanies them, have a textured presence in the mix that is unfiltered, a little harsh, but completely complementary to the harmony. The sluggish rhythm that we begin with in “Facial Recognition Technology” slowly but surely blossoms into a gripping, swagger-filled show of strength on the band’s part, but there’s never an instance where Vakili’s voice isn’t the most powerful force to be reckoned with. She’s got the skills to get everyone’s attention even when the players behind her are conjuring up a storm, and that’s not as common in rock nowadays as some people might think.
I just started listening to Lily Vakili Band, but it’s clear to me that there’s a future ahead for the singer/songwriter breathing life into this crew’s music. I’d love to hear Vakili toy with garage punk, and maybe even some bluesier content, in the future – to some degree, “Facial Recognition Technology” shows shades of both genres in its bones. She’s got so many different directions that she could take her sound in, but for the time being, I would recommend her remaining as committed to songcraft as she has in the last couple of years. There’s still a bit of depth in her style yet to be explored, and with the right tools in the studio, I think she’s going to find her place in the mainstream rock hierarchy a lot sooner than later. I’ll be staying tuned, and I would encourage you to consider doing the same.
by Bethany Page