Helsinki-based musician Lili Aslo has been releasing music under various monikers since 2013, sharing 5 EPs and garnering a loyal fanbase for her unorthodox approach to genre deconstruction. Her previous collections swung wildly between aesthetics, finding room to explore indie rock, synth-pop, and elements of funk and dance music. These genres all bent themselves to her discretion, coalescing into a shifting rhythmic coherence which allowed her to roam musically without restriction or melodic hesitation. Now recording under the guide of Knife Girl, she looks to continue breaking apart large sections of different musical lineages to unearth a wealth of shared commonalities.
With the upcoming release of her debut LP, Uniform (due out September 23 via Soliti/Playground), she finds purpose in a further expansion of her sound, while also tackling themes of identity and intense introspection that have remained present in her mind for years. And though hurt and doubt are very much a part of the landscape of the album, these songs allowed her to work through these experiences and feelings in a protective setting.
“I began writing this album in 2018, when I lived a year abroad in Japan,” she explains. “Gender roles are really strict there which unlocked a gender dysphoria I wasn’t aware of before. During that year I became severely depressed which continued having returned home to Finland.”
She continues: “The album feels bitter-sweet to me. I’ve lived with these songs for years and I’m overjoyed to see it all come to fruition, but at the same time I am reminded of a very painful moment in my life.“
On lead single, “The Good Times are Coming Your Way”, she and her backing band add a bit of muscle to the music, dipping into propulsive indie rock that wears its heart on its sleeve. The guitars strike and retreat, occasionally recalling the wiry fretwork of Talking Heads or a less serrated Gang of Four, and her voice is a whir of ferocious melodies that skyrocket upward into the lower atmosphere. There’s a message of hope tied to the heart of the song; and while it offers no promise of salvation, the track acts as a conduit from Aslo to her audience — an open hand ready to catch you if you fall.
“I wrote this song while I was really struggling with my depression,” reveals Aslo. “The lyrics address the listener but also myself. I’m just sort of wishing that everything is gonna be okay, even though I can’t know for sure. I’m not religious, but oftentimes religious phrases are used to wish people well, like ‘I’ll pray for you’. This is one song where the presence of the band really shines through.”