Review: The Veronicas’ “Lolita”

The Veronicas

The Veronicas

It’s been nearly five full years since Australian pop duo The Veronicas released new music.

Twin sisters Lisa and Jess Origlassio toured their sophomore album, Hook Me Up, from the time of its release in 2007 all the way through 2010. But when it came time to start preparing their highly anticipated third record, the girls decided to part ways to grow as artists independent of one another for a short while.

“You do feel a sense of losing your own identity because you are just known as a band,” Lisa told Australian News Online. “We are so close to each other that when we did take that time off we went into songwriting separately for a while and it was a case of rediscovering ourselves.”

When the pair reunited, they each brought waves of new influences back with them. Lisa had dug into genres like soul and classic rock while Jess immersed herself in electronica and trip-hop. Together, they worked on how to best combine their newly discovered individual sounds to create the aesthetic of their upcoming album, Life On Mars.

To assist amalgamate this diverse palette of musical styles, the girls enlisted the help of various artists they revered – including Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Nirvana producer and Garbage drummer Butch Vig, Silverchair’s Daniel Johns (Aussie pride!) and acclaimed producer Nellee Hooper (Madonna, Massive Attack, No Doubt).

But for Life On Mars’ lead single, “Lolita,” The Veronicas collaborated once more with Toby Gad (Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Fergie), the man who produced the band’s #1 multi-platinum single, “Untouched.”

Released today in Australia and New Zealand, “Lolita” is a dark electronic track interwoven with the duo’s soaring and signature chill-inducing harmonies. Laced with a grinding pulse, the song opens up the idea of a dance floor to be a place that’s both mystical and futuristic – not just somewhere to sweat under a strobe light.

Borrowing the title of Nabokov’s infamous 1955 novel about a professor who becomes obsessed and sexually involved with his 12-year-old student, “Lolita” paints a picture of dangerous lust. Can a haunting and twisted obsession be something worth giving into even when the consequences could be so dire?

“The addiction, friction, it burns you alive. So illegal, no evil is seen with these eyes. I won’t tell if you want it, I will if you want. Nothing’s a secret, don’t care if it’s wrong,” the girls sing before breaking out into the anthemic chorus. “I’m your Lolita, la femme Nikita. When we’re together, you’ll love me forever. You’re my possession, I’m your obsession. Don’t tell me never, I’ll love you forever.”

The song will no doubt raise speculation that it’s about Jess’ recently ended relationship with Corgan (who is nearly two decades older than her), but The Veronicas maintain that it’s about their experiences as young women looking to hold their ground in an industry largely run by men. Together, they had to reclaim their band’s identity from the stigmas associated with being young females navigating their ways through a predominantly male landscape.

It’s no coincidence, then, that “Lolita” opens with a lyrical reference to evolution (“From the mouths of apes to the power of men, I’ll make it all new again”). With this song, the band is not only signaling in an intensely mature new sound (both lyrically and musically), but they’re defining who they are as artists – while simultaneously raising the bar for their peers.

Although the first taste of Life On Mars suggests a grittier and grungier record than its lead single does, “Lolita” remains a master class in contemporary pop. It manages to not feel out of place for mainstream radio while simultaenously being completely unique and challenges the conventions of the genre. And although it’s a little bit of a late entry, it appears that the true song of the summer has finally arrived.

Welcome back, Lisa and Jess. We’ve missed and needed you for far too long.

Set to be released next month, the music video for “Lolita” is currently being shot with director Spencer Susser (‘Hesher’) in Los Angeles. American release dates for “Lolita” and ‘Life On Mars’ have not been announced yet.

The Veronicas

Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. As the Theater Editor, he focuses on all aspects of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, and beyond. Alex lives in Western Massachusetts and can be found on Twitter at @AlexKNagorski.