Lily Mao & the Resonators explore two flip sides of human nature on Human Being Animal EP

From left: bassist Tui Jordan; drummer Gabby Borges; lead vocalist, lyricist and guitarist Lily Mao, and guitarist/producer Nate Jesensky

I’ve got a theory (surprise!) about Lily Mao & the Resonators’ new EP Human Being Animal that it’s split between two halves (or “sides” for those privy to such lingo) with “side one” focused on the theme of animals (not a stretch!) and “side two” on addiction and dysfunctional dependency in general, and this is the nice thing about being a music writer is just making stuff like this up seeing as it’s a subjective art form and sure other types of writers and “reporters” make things up all the time too (political pundits, etc.) but at least with music no one gets hurt…

…which speaks to one crucial difference between humans and other animals and that’s how the latter are incapable of lying (some may disagree!) which leads us to track one (“Wolves”) a song about “what it means to be a human within a society overrun by disinformation” and how “the ruling class cyclically take away the working class’ rights using deception” which are both quotes from Lily Mao that I didn’t make up myself or to quote from its lyrics: “no one listened when I cried but […] the wolves are here tonight and you best believe they bite” which is not only a clever play on “crying wolf” but also speaks to our own animal natures…

…cuz it’s not like us humans are so special or anything, we do all those things other animals do like eat and drink and piss and poop and screw and reproduce it’s just we’re figured out some especially convoluted ways to fulfill our desires which often end up hurting us in the long run and it’s exactly these animal urges that make up the theme of song two “Tiger” which is about “that feeling of carnal excitement towards a commanding being” while still being aware of “power structures in nature and society” (again, direct quotes from LM!) with track 3 “Catman’s Song” being more about the nurturing and tolerant side of animals/human beings…

…so as you can see things get pretty nuanced on this EP even by the end of side one which comes across in the music too, exuding a feline grace one moment and getting its claws out the next—equal parts tasteful strumming and tasty licks and fiber-rich shredding and thissame spectrum applies to the singing too and to the other instruments—and maybe I’m biased or maybe just aging but Lily’s songs hit me right in the ‘90s feels so let’s say FFO Joan Osbourne/Alanis Morissette/Meredith Brooks/Tracy Bonham and if “Wolves” or “Tiger” showed up on season 2 of Yellowjackets I wouldn’t bat an eyelash…

…and now we turn over the record to Side 2 and it’s “addiction” songs with track 4 (“Chewed Food”) being about being so enamored of another person that you let them chew you up like a wolf would (then she pulled me aside / pulled out my insides) but finally coming to your senses just in time (spit me out / of your mouth!) set against a riff so groovy and upbeat that you can totally see how the narrator gets sucked into an interpersonal addiction which isn’t all bad cuz as Lily points out, “it’s actually punk rock to be vulnerable and feel things”…

…meanwhile “Addictions” is all mellow, sultry vibes especially at the opening while describing a relationship where the “heart didn’t break / but it bent” (note the melismatic pitch-bending on the word “bend”, clever!) which really puts you in headspace being seduced almost imperceptibly (until it’s too late) of a romantic addiction and then “Pills” brings drives the point home with an even more enticing groove—really I can’t help thinking about “About A Girl” in the verses and how approprite is that?—with Lily Mao at the top of her form vocally (all those rapid-fire twisty melodies and register jumps and vocal hiccups) and lyrically (the pills make me interesting / guard is a puddle / if you were here right now / I’d probably get off if we cuddled) not to mention that sweet string section…

…so there you have it and all apologies to all involved if I’ve made this EP sound a little too highbrow cuz in reality Lily Mao & the Resonators are one of the most straight-up fun, energetic and unpretentious bands out there even when they’re taking on some pretty serious themes (always with humor and humanity!) and Human Being Animal is no exception to the rule so by all means hire ‘em to play you next backyard barbecue or bat mitzva or quinceañera and you certainly won’t regret it… (Jason Lee)


Vocals, rhythm and solo guitar- Lily Mao
Second Guitar- Nate Jasensky
Bass- Tui Jordan
Drums- Gabby Borges
Written by Lily Mao
Produced by Nate Jasensky at Greenpoint Recording Collective
Mastered by Vanessa Silberman
Via A Diamond Heart Productions

About “A Diamond Heart Productions”: A Diamond Heart Productions is an Artist Development Label, Recording, Music & Publishing Company created by singer, songwriter, & Record Producer Vanessa Silberman. With over 60 releases under its catalog, the label also offers a very community driven home and spirit on the label side as well as distribution (Symphonic Distribution). The label prides itself on being an Artist Friendly Music Company with Old School Record Label Traits and a New School State of Mind in the digital age.