Hardly Art

“I want total freedom, total possibility, total acceptance. I want to fall in love with the rock.”

That’s how Lillie West describes the theme of “DIVER,” the song she calls the thesis of Lala Lala’s third record, I Want The Door To Open. The rock in question is a reference to Sisyphus, the mythical figure doomed by the gods to forever push a boulder up from the depths of hell. To West, it is the perfect metaphor for “the labor of living, of figuring out who you are, what’s wrong with you, what’s right with you,” she says. “I think it’s easy to feel like we keep making the same mistakes over and over again, that we never learn, that we’re Sisyphus; but time is actually a spiral that we move up. The key is falling in love with the labor of walking up the mountain.”

Coming off of 2018’s acclaimed The Lamb, an introspective indie rock album recorded live with a three-piece band, West knew she was ready to make something sonically bigger and thematically more outward-looking than anything she’d done before; a record that would be less a straightforward documentation of her own personal struggles and more like a poem or a puzzle box, with sonic and lyrical clues that would allow the listener to, as the title says, open the door to the greater meaning of those struggles.

The result is I Want The Door To Open, a bold exploration of persona and presence from an artist questioning how to be herself fully in a world where the self is in constant negotiation. From the moment West declares “I want to look right into the camera” over a cascade of dreamy vocal loops on opening track “Lava,” I Want The Door To Open distinguishes itself from anything she’s done before in scope and intensity. The ultra-magnified iteration of Lala Lala is fully encapsulated in the monumental “DIVER.” Inspired by a character from a Jennifer Egan novel, it’s a pop song of Kate Bush-esque proportions replete with layered synths and booming, wide open drumming contributed by fellow Chicago musician Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and West pushing her vocals to the ragged edge.

West co-produced I Want The Door To Open with Yoni Wolf of Why? and reached out to various music friends to help her achieve a galactic level of atmospherics that would’ve been impossible on her own. In addition to Ogbonnaya, I Want The Door To Open features contributions from poet Kara Jackson, OHMME, Adam Schatz of Landlady, Sen Morimoto, Christian Lee Hutson, and Kaina Castillo. Former tourmate Ben Gibbard can be heard on the gentle “Plates,” a song about accepting the past regardless of whatever negative feelings accompany those memories; a necessary act for unlocking the door to the present moment West is actively seeking on the record. 

Throughout I Want The Door To Open, West is fascinated with the idea of avatars: how we present ourselves to the world versus how other people see us versus who we really are when we’re alone, and how those images can change over time. “How can anyone else know who you are? How can you know who anyone else is when all these different avatars or personalities or performances are happening simultaneously, in different places,” asks West. It’s a question she poses on the cinematic “Color of the Pool,” a song about wanting to embody the characteristics of something pure and uncatchable that features stacks of wigged-out saxophone from Schatz. West revisits the topic on “Photo Photo,” on which OHMME provide a haunting medieval vocal round as West attempts to parse the various aspects of presentation and representation.

“Utopia Planet,” the final track on I Want The Door To Open, features a very special guest: West’s own Grandma Beth, who charmingly relays her thoughts on a painting West made of herself—another avatar of the artist as seen through the eyes of someone who loves her. It is the fitting end to the inner labyrinth that West maps on I Want The Door To Open, a musical quest undertaken with the knowledge that the titular door may never open; but it is through falling in love with the quest itself that one may find the closest thing to total freedom, total possibility, and total acceptance available to us on this plane of existence.


On Tour

  • Thu, Jan 27
    Tolhuistuin , Netherlands
  • Sat, Jan 29
    Cactus at Villa Bota
    Brugge, Belgium
  • Sun, Jan 30
    Brussels, Belgium
  • Tue, Feb 1
    Baumann & Sohn
    Köln, Germany
  • Wed, Feb 2
    Kantine Am Berghain
    Berlin, Germany
  • Thu, Feb 3
    Hamburg, Germany
  • Sat, Feb 5
    Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Sun, Feb 6
    Oslo, Norway
  • Mon, Feb 7
    Hus 7
    Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tue, Feb 8
    Plan B (SE)
    Malmö, Sweden
  • Wed, Feb 9
    København, Denmark
  • Fri, Feb 11
    Prague, Czech Republic
  • Sat, Feb 12
    Club Manufaktur
    Schorndorf, Germany
  • Sun, Feb 13
    Freiburg, Germany
  • Mon, Feb 14
    Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland
  • Wed, Feb 16
    Zurich , Switzerland
  • Thu, Feb 17
    Festival Hors-Pistes
    Annecy, France
  • Fri, Feb 18
    Metz, France
  • Sat, Feb 19
    Lille, France
  • Sun, Feb 20
    Brighton, United Kingdom
  • Mon, Feb 21
    London, United Kingdom
  • Wed, Feb 23
    Hyde Park Book Club
    Leeds, United Kingdom
  • Thu, Feb 24
    Nice n Sleazys
    Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Fri, Feb 25
    Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Sat, Feb 26
    Strange Brew
    Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Mon, Feb 28
    Paris, France
  • Sat, Mar 12
    Omaha, NE
  • Mon, Mar 14
    Denver, CO
  • Tue, Mar 15
    Salt Lake City, UT
  • Wed, Mar 16
    Boise, ID
  • Fri, Mar 18
    Seattle, WA
  • Sat, Mar 19
    Fox Cabaret
    Vancouver, Canada
  • Sun, Mar 20
    Portland, OR
  • Tue, Mar 22
    Oakland, CA
  • Fri, Mar 25
    San Diego, CA
  • Sat, Mar 26
    Club Congress
    Tucson, AZ
  • Sun, Mar 27
    Valley Bar
    Phoenix, AZ
  • Mon, Mar 28
    Meow Wolf
    Santa Fe, NM
  • Wed, Mar 30
    Austin, TX
  • Thu, Mar 31
    Deep Ellum Art Society
    Dallas, TX
  • Sat, Apr 2
    Calgary, Canada
  • Sun, Apr 3
    Milwaukee, WI
  • Wed, Apr 13
    Raccoon Motel
    Davenport, Iowa
  • Thu, Apr 14
    Minneapolis, MN
  • Fri, Apr 15
    Madison, WI
  • Sat, Apr 16
    Rose Bowl Tavern
    Urbana, IL
  • Sun, Apr 17
    Nashville, TN
  • Tue, Apr 19
    Atlanta, GA
  • Wed, Apr 20
    Durham, NC
  • Fri, Apr 22
    The Foundry
    Brisbane, Australia
  • Sat, Apr 23
    Woodstock, NY
  • Sun, Apr 24
    Black Cat
    Washington, DC
  • Wed, Apr 27
    Cambridge, MA
  • Thu, Apr 28
    Buffalo, NY
  • Fri, Apr 29
    Toronto, Canada
  • Sat, Apr 30
    Outer Limits
    Hamtramck, MI
  • Fri, Oct 28
    Groningen, Netherlands