On the spectrum of wimpy indie rock frontmen there’s twee and then there’s Kyle Hamlett, lead singer for Nashville’s Lylas. Hamlett writes fragile, melodic pop songs and sings them in a voice that’s just decibels above a whisper. And while he’s probably the only guy that Conor Oberst could beat at arm wrestling, Hamlett would be a formidable challenger in any songwriting contest. The songs on Lylas’ debut Lessons for Lovers (out this week) are melodic and well-crafted, built around warm harmonies and clever chord changes.
Lessons has the distinct feel of a concept record, but you’ll probably have trouble picking out the theme from the lyrics (it’s either Siamese twins or sweaters). This is mostly beside the point though, as the 16 tracks all feel as though they belong together. Credit Lylas’ inventive arrangements: Songs begin on acoustic guitar, then swell into pocket symphonies, typically before the first chorus. The band augments the traditional rock’n’roll hardware with banjos, pedal steel, theremin, and glockenspiel, making their best moments sound like Brian Wilson on an austerity budget.
Lylas tour dates:
4/18, Nashville, TN (Grimey’s New and Preloved Music) 4/22, Nashville, TN (Basement) 4/23, Murfreesboro, TN (Grand Palace)