It's been over a decade since The Lillingtons released a full-length album and an anomaly of a record at that. Having signed to Fat Wreck Chords, the band toiled away on their new record in secret, crafting an album that is both a continuation of their legacy and a dramatic reinvention. It's called Stella Sapiente, a title that vocalist-guitarist Kody Templeman says roughly translates to "wisdom of the stars," and that phrase proves apt given his claim that it's "centered around secret societies, astrology, and the occult."
This kind of subject matter makes perfect sense for The Lillingtons, a band that has never – and likely will never – find much interest in the mundane. Their songs are pulpy vignettes steeped in intrigue, unraveling mysteries, conspiracies, and cloak-and-dagger operations while bashing through buzzy, pop-focused punk songs. Stella Sapiente sees the band removing all preconceived notions of what a Lillingtons record should sound like, and it's that approach that yielded them a classic record back in 1998. This time around, it's less of a genre shift and more so a willingness to embellish every detail. Like a B-movie director blessed with the budget of a summer blockbuster, on Stella Sapiente the band is able to create worlds inside each song, allowing everything from guitar tones to vocal phrasing to be pushed to their fullest potential.
"Insect Nightmares" has the propulsive energy of a classic Lillingtons song, but there are palm-muted, chugging guitars flanked by uproarious leads, as if the band pillaged vintage metal records, taking only the best ideas and leaving the excess behind. Elsewhere, a track like "Night Visions" could easily pass for a Devo-like soundscape, providing the perfect soundtrack for traversing underground tunnels and thumbing through ancient texts.