April 26th, 2009


Liszts: Big Trouble in Little China Review
Maarten Schiethart

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Named after the 19th century Hungarian composer, the Liszts, however, are a combo singing in both Mandarin and English alike. Their diction and phrasing give away an American heritage and while (obviously I cannot account for having any detection quality when the language in question originates from a country I have never been to) also that of China. As foreign as that may all seem, the Liszts deal in rather familiar ethics. And before you even became aware of it, the Liszts embrace sounds that one would not be able tell apart from that of other established indie rock or college radio starlets, so let us forget about any exotic ethnicity for once.


The album title is another suggestion to step beyond previously held misconceptions – think film title if you do not catch my drift. ‘Big Trouble In Little China’ renders a collection of beautifully melodic tracks, recorded already a couple of years back. The year 2009, however, probably proves the right moment to let it all hang out. ‘Wogenni’ – that’s a title in Mandarin where the use of the latin alphabet in the English language doesn’t do any justice to the original character symbol – is nothing less than a little gem with a driving pop beat.

‘Vow’ comes on next to illustrate the Liszts’ perfect command of both pop music antics and the English language idiom. The album was recorded in Michigan, USA but still works as an example of cross-culture nonetheless. The following track ‘Woshwaijao’ combines the gentle characteristics of Mandarin pop music and lo-fi yankee noodlings.

‘Dream’ is an even more majestic little pop tune, due to the simple aid of a chorus, chords and lots of lovely echo in the production. ‘Geometry’ continues in a similarly comfy vein; it is the closing track ‘A Wedding’ where experiment steps in. ‘A Wedding’ tells the tale of the many things touched on by America such as Hiroshima and John Wayne, just as the track rolls back with the genuine forgiveness which appears to be deeply rooted in Asian culture.