Monday, 1 September 2014

Lilly Wood and the Prick

While it has been hugely encouraging to see acts like David Guetta and Daft Punk conquer the international
music scene, it's great to see another French act making a significant chart impact in the UK, even more so when the act in question has the kind of name that would normally not even get them mentioned on the radio, never mind played.

There's no way round it, Lilly Wood and the Prick probably have the ugliest name in music, especially to anglophone ears, but that's not stopped the French indie folk act from reaching the heights of the UK charts with Prayer in C.

True, the '...and the Prick' part of their name has been removed from the act's UK marketing to spare the blushes of the apparently more prudish UK listeners, and that seems to have  made the difference. The song's been a massive hit across Europe - not always a guarantee that the UK will follow  - and Lilly Wood and the Prick are more than just an act with one hit song to their name.

Lilly Wood and the Prick features vocalist Nili Hadida and guitarist Benjamin Cotto who have been working together since 2006. A 2008 cover of the Santogold track L E S Artistes attracted some attention an led to a release of the track Water Ran on alternative folk collection Folk and Proud alongside the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Rufus Wainwright and Devendra Banhart.

Lilly Wood & The Prick - L.E.S. Artistes (session RendezVousCreation n° 20) from Nicolas Esposito on Vimeo.

An EP was to emerge the following year, entitled  Lilly Who and the What?, a six track release that featured both L E S Artistes  and Water Ran. Another track was Down the Drain, which would later feature on their debut album and become their first chart success in France a couple of years later.

They signed to Cinq7 records for their debut album,  the Invincible Friends collection that was released in 2010. The album included Down the Drain, a certain song entitled Prayer in C that would make something of an impression in a few years time.

Invincible Friends made a massive impression critically and commercially, leading to a nomination for a  Victoires de la Musique award for the public breakthrough act in 2011, where they won against competition from acts like Ben l'Oncle Soul, Camélia Jordana and Zaz.

They also performed at the show, one of the major music events in France, performing Down the Drain. By this point, the band had established themselves as not only as a strong live act - Hadida and Cotto having brought in additional musicians to bring a new dimension to their live performance - but also as a serious commercial proposition with artistic integrity.

Their debut album would be reissued in 2011 with a number of additional tracks, including  L.E.S. Artistes and This is a Love Song.

2012 saw the release of their second album, The Fight, which saw a number of singles, with Middle of the Night their first, showing that while their roots may be in alternative folk, they had no fear of embracing more contemporary sounds.

Where I Want To Be (California) followed it, a track which again manages to combine a very contemporary production sound with a great song.

The Fight would reach the top twenty in France, a higher position than their debut managed, the release of a total of four singles giving it a high profile and a long commercial lifespan.

None of the singles would be a huge chart success, but they showed that Lilly Wood was an act with considerable reserves of talent and an act with more that one album's worth of first rate material.

But while the songs from The Fight consolidated the success of Invincible Friends, it would be a remix of a track from the debut album that would put them in the international league.  Prayer in C combined the melancholic feel of the original with a glossy finish that made it both club and radio friendly, German producer Robin Schulz giving it a light re-working rather than a complete re-working, keeping the song intact but adding a sheen to it.

It will be interesting to see what they do next. A new album is likely in 2015, but what's certain is that Lilly Wood and the Prick have become France's most successful international breakthough act in 2014, and that success is well deserved.

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