There’s a lot of things I’d like to say about Lydia, but frankly I don’t think it’s any of your business. And that’s pretty much the point. Few bands create such personal connections within the framework of verse-chorus-bridge tunes. Luckily on Assailants, Leighton Antelman’s catharsis is strong enough for two. Here on the band’s final output, there is lots of reflection; a band doesn’t fall apart for no reason. But the logic within all this emotion is that we are included. The audience’s POV still reigns supreme. And I know that’s what I always say, but I always say it because I feel it’s the most important thing: we must be included. Lydia have written their final act, and we’re all the star.
How to write a eulogy. I have no idea. Does the demise even matter, or is it the triumphs that deserve special attention? But what I do know is that Assailants is truly wonderful. Its rank in the Lydia canon is meaningless, partly out of respect for the recently departed, and partly because I flat out refuse. Heck, I spent lots of time pondering whether this should even be a “review,” or if it could just be a nice forum to share thoughts about this powerful band. (If you would like to discuss Lydia’s meaning to you, I more than encourage you to do so in the replies.) But I suppose, in terms of nuts and bolts, there is not an ounce of disappointment in Assailants. Despite arriving 2 years after Illuminate, this record essentially continues the discourse with lamenting, wispy and downright emotional indie pop-rock. Antelman’s lyrics are still superb and superbly delivered in his characteristic high-pitched moan. Assailants is a record about coming to terms, yet its somber view of the future adds a timeless quality. When a band sees the writing on the wall, then writes that into a record, only powerful things can come.
Seven songs to say goodbye. “Empty Out Your Stomach” uses electronic tinkering not as a crutch, but as a foil to achingly human lines like, “You empty out your stomach / So everyone can see that you are as black as the basement / And just as wicked as me.” It’s unnerving for lines like that to appear on a band’s last monument; one more reminder that life ain’t unicorns and rainbows. “A Place Near The City” also creates a complex atmosphere with glittering beeps. And while I’m not saying that this is Assailants’ best song (because who am I?), I am saying that it has the album’s best, most telling line (at least in terms of dying bands): “Cause whatever happened is supposed to / Whatever happened is nothing I could do.” It’s not our job to speculate on the end of Lydia, but I think we can all feel a teensy bit better knowing that there is some closure. Well, at least closure in a sense that moving forward is possible. Because if there’s anything we can hope for, it’s that Antelman and sole remaining member Craig Taylor become creators again real soon.