Brooklyn-via-Chicago based Silver Liz has a new LP out now called ‘It Is Lighter Than You Think’. This multifaceted married duo combines Carrie Wagner’s lush vocal talents with Matt Wagner’s production virtuosity to create and explore a variety of genres. Dream-pop meets electronica. Acoustic-pop meets the Strokes (Carrie and Matt met in their college music practice room bonding over the band). The sound is vibey and often unexpected, with songs taking hard turns or building into something altogether different from where they began. There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s just dive in.
The opening track and first single, “Until Lately” is an ode to the insecurity and vulnerability of youth. When all you wanted was to be as cool as someone else. Carrie begins by reminiscing, /When I was young/ I wanted to be just like you/ I wanted to get my nose pierced/ smoke cigarettes/ behind that tree in our schoolyard/. However, in our “old age” (or in this case by the time she’s 26) we hopefully start to break out of those feelings of wanting to be someone else and achieve a level of unique personhood. A sixties soul beat kicks in as those thoughts are overcome. /I was driving myself crazy/and and it wasn’t until lately/those thoughts got out of my head/I think I’ve put them to rest/.
“Thousand” abruptly picks things up and drops them into a more bopping territory. An absolutely electro-trash drum intro gives way to an upbeat acoustic dream-pop song about…dissociation? /I don’t mean to ignore you/ It’s just that I’m a hundred miles away/it’s like you’re talking to thin air/ already forgotten what you’ve said/ when I told my friend about it she said it’s like you die one thousand deaths/ Thought that I could prepare for all the things I’ve come to dread/. Beautiful song. Dark lyrics. Heavy electric guitar outro. Righteous.
“Unlikely Girl” is classic indie rock gold. Crystal clear guitar and meandering vocals are supported by a familiar pop chord progression that wends its way toward an unexpectedly abstract and powerful bridge.
One standout on this LP is “L.I.F” which one could describe as Sea Change era Beck meets Beach House. The pedal steel guitar here is particularly delightful while Matt and Carrie’s vocal harmonies blend beautifully.
“Missing the Party” uses the album’s titular lyric “it is lighter than you think”. The hilariously named “High at the Gym” is a heavy electric power-pop song. Matt takes the lead vocals on this one as he belts, /You said you listen to our music/when you get high at the gym/. Catchy, almost Beach Boys vocal harmonies, deep distorted bass, poppy drums, and a shredding guitar solo complete this banger.
‘It Is Lighter Than You Think’ closes with the contemplative “Terrapin.” Ethereal vocals and shimmering guitar are accompanied by the barest hint of organ and bird song. This one brings to mind indie darlings, Alvvays in its innocence and lo-fi delicacy. Carrie’s voice really shines in this one. As the track closes with the ambient sounds of birdsong in Silver Liz gives you a little time to sit with all the feels they made you feel. And then it stops.
Your band/relationship origin story of meeting in the college music room is super cool and very romantic. What came first, the band or the relationship? Or did it all sort of happen all at once?
We got married, then formed a band the following year actually. But music has always been a huge part of our relationship. We had played covers at our college coffeehouses, and we were starting to write songs and record covers of songs, then formed a band in 2016.
What are some of your biggest influences musically or otherwise? (Besides the Strokes, we all love the Strokes).
During the making of this record, Elliott Smith, Sonic Youth, Alex G, Stereolab, Radiohead, Wilco, My Bloody Valentine, Alvvays, and Beach House were some big influences. Recently, we’ve been really influenced by the new Jockstrap record, because we love their combination of incredible songwriting and composition with some interesting experimental electronic production.
What’s your songwriting process look like?
For the most part on this album, I wrote the songs on the first half, and Matt wrote the songs on the second half, but there was an element of collaboration in nearly all of the songs. For our upcoming album, I’ve been writing most of the songs on the guitar or my keyboard, then I’ll come up with a melody, and then write the lyrics; sometimes those last two steps take place simultaneously. Then Matt will modify any of those aspects of the songs, and he produces and arranges the songs to have a more modern flare.
What about the recording process?
We recorded the drums in a studio for this album, so we want to do an even more bedroom pop approach for our next record. We write and record the music ourselves, and Matt records everything using ProTools and Ableton.
What does a Silver Liz live show look like?
It’s me, Matt, and our drummer Mark. I play synth bass, Matt plays guitar and controls all the other sound through Ableton Live. Our friend Sara Schoenberger also custom-made stage lights for us that Matt synced with the music using Ableton.
Are you planning on touring the album? What’s a city/venue you would absolutely love to see?
We don’t have a tour planned yet, but we hope to tour sometime ideally this summer! We would really love to visit Austin. I was only there with my family for a short trip when I was a kid, so if I were to go back, I would love to actually check out the music scene next time. Also, it’d be really cool to play somewhere outdoors.