LIES, the heretofore obscure collaboration between Mike and Nate Kinsella, are announcing their debut album Lies, out March 31st via Polyvinyl Record Co. The two cousins have been sharing new “catchy, pretty, and weird in roughly equal measures” (Stereogum) songs for the past several months with scant detail attached, but today the duo pull back the curtain on their new endeavor. With the announcement of a full-length LP, LIES also share the new emblematically named single “Resurrection” along with an Atiba Jefferson directed music video for the track. “‘Resurrection’ is a celebration song about reawakening a part of the self that has been hidden away in hibernation.” shares Nate Kinsella in describing the music video. “We used mirrors and some camera angle trickery to superimpose our heads onto the bodies of a couple of professional dancers, whose movements illustrate a kind of unselfconscious joy and freedom - feelings that maybe we have a hard time accessing, or tapping into. I hope the video transmits the sense of fun and liberation that we envisioned (and experienced!) when making it.”
The title of the new single necessarily begs the question, a resurrection from what? Only a glance at the vast catalogs of cousins Mike and Nate Kinsella shows how wide their musical interests have always been, from the idiosyncratic experiments of Nate’s Birthmark and his time in the great Make Believe to Mike’s twisting path among Cap’n Jazz and Owen. (Fun fact: They both even shared stints in Joan of Arc.) But at least right now, Nate and Mike’s most recognizable work together may be their contributions to American Football, a band that entered its celebrated second act in 2014 after a 14-year absence. Nate joined American Football for that return, LP2, and 2019’s LP3, buttressing their tender songs and skywriting guitars with his strong but subtle bass. Perhaps even to their surprise, The Kinsellas became newly synonymous with American Football. But the risk of making anything that becomes beloved is that it comes to define you, to foster expectations of what you do and even who you are.
As the pair prepared to start writing new American Football tunes, perhaps noodling with guitars in the same room, Nate revealed a series of short synthesizer loops, potential prompts for a different sort of pop song. “I want to be in that band,” Mike remembers telling him. And so, now they are: LIES, the new Kinsella cousin duo, represents the first time they have written together without anyone else. What’s more, their gripping self-titled debut, Lies, rewrites the way Nate and Mike are expected to sound, breaking free of what could have come to define them.
These are explosive but intricate pop songs, their striking hooks nested in glorious composites of keyboard melodies and digital textures, powerhouse rhythms and sweeping strings. Above propulsive drums and kaleidoscopic sequencers that will excite the Depeche Mode faithful, Mike croons of modern disaffection during “Camera Chimera.” A brooding but beautiful survey of betrayal, “Rouge Vermouth” suggests Tears for Fears on a morphine drip, keyboards refracted like sunlight split by raindrops. The bass propulsion of “No Shame,” the tricky rhythms of “Knife,” the danceable dynamics of “Broken”: These are among the most compulsive and instant songs the Kinsellas have written in long-distinguished careers of memorable tunes.
Lies charts the sometimes-difficult terrain of what it is to navigate a relationship, to power past feelings of deceit and doubt and move forward, toward an amorphous hope. Mike has written very explicitly about fractious divorce in the past, but, here, he funneled his experiences through the lenses of the songwriters these sounds invoked—Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, and Robyn among them. He’s not so much as playacting as using surprising points of inspiration to step outside of expectations and gain a new perspective, the animating premise of LIES. From the apologetically lustful “Corbeau” and the unapologetically sensuous “Blemishes” to the abyssal lowering of “Summer Somewhere,” Lies is a remarkably cohesive and complete portrait of what it means to feel your way through a world built on relationships. These songs are so mighty that you feel like you’re right there for the rides between drama and possible redemption.