On the album “En Kötü Iyi Olur”, the Turkish band Lalalar combines Anatolian disco with punk energy and poetic-political lyrics.
The streets of Istanbul have always been a melting pot of political energy, social furore, and intense musical progression. It’s a hotbed of riotous sounds and artists looking for new outlets and sound; a bi-product of youth culture who have been living under the rule of Erdoğan for almost a decade. It’s from these streets that the band Lalalar came to fruition. The alternative electronic-activists Ali Güçlü Şimşek, Barlas Tan Özemek and Alican İpek are radicals in terms of their political ideology of sounds; outspoken, ideological, and full of energy, ripe for the dancefloor.
“En Kötü Iyi Olur” is a follow up to their 2022 record, “Bi Cinnete Bakar”, an uncompromising, streetwise introduction to their Turk-Noise sounds. New album is fed by the mighty heritage of Anatolia, powered by the electronic burden of 80’s youth, born ready to dance, produced by a trio not wanting to hold back on widening their unauthorized experiments in today’s music scene in Istanbul.
Big beats, and big dreams
Sound-wise, the band use sonic references that read off like an international-buffet of styles to more authentic, and modern Anatolian acts, including Altin Gün. At the center of their Anatolian dark-wave electronics is a punk band, rebelling in spirit and style: one influenced and driven by the politics of their homeland.
“Our music is about building a bridge between the people and the music”, says the group’s frontman Ali Güçlü Şimşek.
The name arises from the original definition of Lala; the wise-man, or teacher of sultans in Ottoman history. “It also has an opposite meaning for being goofy, or dumb,” explains Principal songwriter, Ali Güçlü Şimşek. And then by adding “lar,” to “Lala” the moniker becomes
pluralised, giving them the ‘wiseguys’ moniker.
“We are not so wise anymore,” Ali jokes. “If people think we’re the wiseguys, then I would be happy. But our band name is more about connecting these different kinds of dots, creating a dilemma; something that is reflected throughout this world.”
Passion and urgency
“We are not so wise anymore,” Şimşek jokes. “If people think we’re the wiseguys, then I would be happy. But our band name is more about connecting these different kinds of dots, creating a dilemma; something that is reflected throughout this world.”
You may not understand Turkish, but you can clearly hear their passion through the record’s lyrics, where dilemmas, passions, and confrontation form a fundamental part of the album’s structure. This manifests itself first and center through the record’s title
En Kötü Iyi Olur, a saying that translates to ‘at its worst, it will be good.’ Essentially, a beacon of hope in our ever socially, politically, and climatically challenged world.
“The album’s lyrics are about politics, they speak about rebellion, exaggerated relationships, narcissistic personalities, and love triangles,” explains Ali. Everyday things for Istanbul’s acclaimed Wisguy. This exhaustive fight can be heard in the album’s opening lyrics on ‘Avucunu Yaliyor’, ‘Whistle for It’; “I’ve been pissing in the wind for 40 years.” The track’s title is an aphorism for wanting to get rich but not being
Even if we can’t have what we want, at least we’ll be able to have some fun along the way. Across the album are war-cries for change, resistance, and resilience, such as on ‘Göt’, or ‘Ass’, where they ask you to stand up and fight against the tyranny and injustice in the world: “the end of the road may be unknown, but our mind is clear, that’s the point, we’re coming down to your den, we’re striking at your roots, gosh knows you got nowhere to hide.” There are also deeper cuts on the record, such as with ‘Yaşamaya Bahane Ver,’ or ‘Give me an Excuse to Live’ which deals with topics of existentialism with deep and expressive musical motifs to match.
Bongo Joe and NMR (foto: press Lalalar)