Emotional Creature: On their new Beach Bunny album, they prove they’re more than Prom Queen’s viral TikTok hit
There’s an online delivery on “Weeds,” the best song from Beach Bunny’s second album emotional creature which embodies precisely what has made them connect with countless pop stans, music critics and a 59-year-old TV star. “You can’t hold me / I’m a rocket that bursts”, sings Lili Trifilio. It’s a choice of words you can see coming – after all, few rhymes with “locket” and “pocket” from the previous bars – but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying or cathartic when the lyrics come out with a hard-confidence. won.
“‘Weeds’ was…almost like I was trying to wake up from feeling sorry for myself, still victimizing myself, being in these toxic patterns,” the 25-year-old musician says. “I wrote it like I was my own best friend having some kind of intervention.”
For the past half-decade, Beach Bunny has filled this role of confidant and motivator thanks to Lili’s willingness to set her own struggles to music. In 2018, she brought guitarist Matt Henkels, drummer Jon Alvarado and bassist Anthony Vaccaro into the fold after initially starting Beach Bunny as a solo project. The band won fans in their hometown of Chicago, but gained international notoriety with the viral hit of “Prom Queen,” a disarmingly candid song about the effects of unhealthy beauty standards.
The song established Beach Bunny’s MO. While peanut butter pop songs have been around forever, the band don’t hide diartic lyrics about dysfunctional relationships, self-esteem and anxiety in bright melodies. The booming guitar chords and soaring choruses are not there to cut the power, but to increase it. Most songs on emotional creature would be excellent stripped to the bone and rendered acoustic, but they wouldn’t be unmistakable, as are the shimmering hooks of warmth on “Gone” and “Scream.”
Lili and I meet one overcast morning near her Bucktown apartment on the Sunday before the release of Beach Bunny’s latest album. In person, she is cheerful and quick to laugh, but not overly gregarious. She is contemplative, without appearing too calculated. After our conversation is over, she will spend at least 45 minutes chatting with all the local artists and designers selling their work at the cafe.
She’s candid about the pressure of heightened expectations that come with the band’s skyrocketing visibility, and says she’s actually “grateful.” emotional creature has been postponed a few times. This not only gave the band and their label, indie darling Mom + Pop, time to plan an extensive rollout and redo a few music videos, but also allowed Lili to prepare to release such a candid and revealing project. wider in the group. public again.
“I had to realize that I was really obsessed with what people thought about things. With social media, we all have so much access to that, so I had to cut myself off and be like, ‘You have write these songs for yourself, no matter what people think. You’re gonna turn it off anyway. Relax,” she said. “I don’t even think anyone is pressuring me, I pressured me.”
The thematic weight of the record is balanced by a retro-futuristic aesthetic that encompasses the album cover, the tour posters, as well as the videos for “Weeds” and “Entropy”, which combine to tell the story of the album. a daring spaceship. rescue. Recalling the first star wars trilogy, the videos are happily homemade, but Lili says the undercurrent of otherworldly sci-fi has to do with the anxiety and uncertainty that one would have to be an alien not to have felt in recent years.
“It was my form of escape and a lot of songs were written in that form – wanting to escape what was happening on planet Earth,” she explains.
Lili says she is a fan of the “era” artists who create a distinct look and feel around each set of works. It’s the kind of thing most often associated with big labels with huge budgets to play with, but in some ways Beach Bunny is closer to that level of notoriety than you might think. The band’s top three songs on Spotify have made what can only be described as Post Malone numbers. The TikTok ubiquity of “Prom Queen” and “Cloud 9” certainly helped, and now their continued success coincides with the much-hyped emo/pop punk revival. But while much of this music sounds cynical and retro-engineered, Beach Bunny is seriously endearing. The decision to write warm-toned indie rock with a confessional edge isn’t made to court playlist placements or score comparisons with influential alternative acts.
Zachary Hertzman Photography
“I was very embarrassed once when an interviewer asked me if I listened to Liz Phair and I didn’t,” she recalls. “I really wasn’t very familiar, and then in the interview they kind of roasted me that I didn’t know who Liz Phair was because, in her opinion, that had be the only influence.
In support of emotional creature, the band have a relentless touring schedule, including what is sure to be a crowning performance at Lollapalooza and dates all over Europe. There’s a pressure that comes with these high-profile sets, but Lili says getting back in front of the audience was key to changing her perspective on the band.
“When you play the numbers game, which a lot of us musicians were doing during the pandemic, it’s hard to even understand that number of people and whether the comments are positive or negative,” she says. “I just don’t think it’s natural for human beings to have so many opinions.”
It’s an understandable reaction, especially with music as deeply personal as what she’s written here. The album encompasses a wide range of feelings, from frustration over romantic relapses to the dizzying vulnerability of falling in love with someone new, which is captured on the final three tracks. The LP even nods to Lili’s pandemic hobby of making beats on her computer with the celestial instrumental interlude “Gravity.”
“It was a tribute to that period of life that I was singing about and – I feel like it didn’t quite work out – but I was trying to transition from the first part of the album which is really in it emotionally, it’s the medium where I have some accomplishments, and then it ends well, ”she explains.
“Weeds”, the last single before emotional creature release, has been in the works since 2019, when Beach Bunny was just beginning to become what it is now. For Lili, it’s her favorite track on the album, largely because her years-long journey to completion reflects her own journey to becoming the person she is today.
“[When I wrote the song] I was like, “I hope I stop doing all this toxic stuff” and the moment it was recorded, I [felt] a feeling of letting go, but I wasn’t there until the end,” says Lili. “Now, with another year passing, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can take a deep breath and let it go. “”
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