The Lollipops
The Pinhook, Durham
Friday, March 22, 2013

For me, it’s standard procedure to listen to a band’s albums while you write a review of their live show. The recorded output serves as a refresher for the group’s sound, kick-starting your memories and giving you an easy point of comparison. In the case of Raleigh’s Lollipops, this procedure is more confusing than helpful. Of all the intriguing young outfits making waves in the Triangle right now, the powerfully fetching psych-pop group boasts the biggest disparity between their recorded output and live show. This isn’t to say that one is bad and the other good, though the talents of singer Iggy Cosky have clearly improved since he began releasing shambling, lo-fi nuggets last year. The Lollipops’ recordings are distorted but delicate, Cosky’s irrepressible charms thinned by production that conflates messiness with mystery. But live and backed by a full-fledged rock band, his cutting choruses are met with meaty bass lines and fuzz that’s more commanding than careless.

Cosky’s songs juxtapose buoyant melodies with crushing depression, a contrast embodied by his references to drug highs and come-downs—”We’ll shoot some heroin/ And take to the skies,” he offers on “Black Tar Carpet Ride,” just seconds after after telling his lady that he’s sorry “about the times, we almost died.”

At The Pinhook on Friday, the band lent power to this polarity: “Take This Knife,” a highlight from last year’s Pop Narcotics cassette, surged with a driving bass line and enormous synthesizers, borrowing Passion Pit-level drama in service of a hook that truly deserves it. “I Love You,” a static-beguiled mess from the digital-only collection Your Royal Masochist & The Love Crusades, was suave and swaggering, its comfortably swaying keyboard lines and impassioned vocal lending purpose to Cosky’s professions. The Lollipops’ recordings are solid, but their live show achieves a feisty confidence that those slapdash creations can’t touch. Here’s hoping a full-band album comes down the pipe soon.