Lily Mao and The Resonaters- Human Being Animal

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Reviews

Lily Mao and The Resonaters Human Being Animal 


Lily Mao may have done it. “It” being having delivered a near perfect pop record. And along with the help of their backing band, The Resonaters, the Brooklyn singer-songwriter just may have indeed done it.


Mao’s Human Being Animal is the latest release from Vanessa Silberman’s A Diamond Heart Production and it rises to the likes of The Promise Ring’s Very Emergency or even The Cars self-titled from songwriting to production to execution. It’s really really good.


Mao leads out front on vocals and guitar and is backed by The Resonaters—Nate Jasensky on guitar, Gabby Borges on drums, and Tui Jordan on bass. For a number of years now, Mao has continued to stand out as one of Brooklyn’s most unique voices, and we here at FTA have obviously been keeping tabs on the band as they dropped their two singles “Wolves” and “Tiger” late last year.


Lily Mao & The Resonators performing at 3 Dollar Bill

Lily Mao and The Resonaters in 2021 (photo by Kate Hoos)


The guitars throughout the entire record (apart from the ripping lead on “Tiger”) are pulled back a little to let their strange cool voice poke through in all the perfect places. Chock full of quirk and teeming with skilled implementation, Mao knows the way around their own vocal chords in a way most pop-rock singers can only dream. But while the vocal takes center stage for the most part, it’s truly the band that provides all the framework to really make these songs shine. The drums punch, the bass is locked tight, and the guitars are delicate when necessary and big right where you want them. It’s a really good record. 


And I’m no stranger to the themes highlighted on Human Being Animal as my own band, Nihiloceros, covered very similar ground on our last record. The line that separates the human species from the rest of the animals on this planet can be hazy and often imaginary. Mao says the song “Wolves” specifically questions “what it means to be a human within a society overrun by disinformation…how capitalism is a pillar of many human rights issues intertwined with white supremacy, misogyny, and homophobia. It’s a warning cry that the ruling class cyclically take away the working class’ rights using deception. [It attacks] all the powers that recurrently suppress and de-humanize human beings for profit. At times we tried to show compassion to humans who have fallen to disinformation using a calmness in our tone, while other times we were intense and loud as acts of self-compassion and truth.”



Mao indeed calls attention to these societal ills while satirically tiptoeing around classic idioms on “Wolves” and “Tiger.” They are rife in clever animal word play and nuanced metaphor and indeed function as a strong opening to the EP (see our previous thoughts/coverage here). But for me the secret standout is “Chewed Food,” sitting in the middle of the back half booked in its guitar hammers, and “Summertime Blues” pop delivery. A rather grotesque take on fleeting happiness and heartbreak, the chorus run and catch-up turnaround vocal mid-phrase gives me goosebumps every time. It’s a song that makes you feel ok about not feeling good.


Alternatively, “Pills” closes out the record by pulling feelings of discomfort to the surface. There’s an ultra specific tension that is almost tactile as Mao croons “the pills make me interesting. My guard is a puddle. If you were here right now, I’d probably get off if we cuddled. I feel a rainbow latching on my spine. But I’m in trouble as the bottle gathers air, I start biting myself as I become more aware.” And it continues to spiral downward along a dark helix of religion and pain and addiction. Wrapped in sharp images it stretches taut over the melancholy of the instrumental strings that complement their voice in a way that feels almost Fiona Apple or Tracy Bonham in mood.


Lily Mao & The Resonators performing at 3 Dollar Bill

Lily Mao and The Resonaters in 2021 (photo by Kate Hoos)


Lily Mao & the Resonators are continuing to help carve out the reputation of Silberman’s A Diamond Heart Production. Recognized by Alternative Press as one of the top new LGBTQIA+ and women-owned labels that are changing the music industry, Silberman’s extensive experience in multiple facets the industry puts her in a unique position in developing artists and offering a space for any and all artists to have the opportunity to be a part of a music-driven community. Human Being Animal is just another shining example and like I said before, it’s a really really good fucking record.


Human Being Animal is out now via A Diamond Heart Productions and available on all major streaming platforms.




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