OK, so the Tiger Lillies aren’t exactly “party” “music.” In fact, I routinely get yelled at by present company any time a TL song comes up in rotation. I can see how one might find the shrill falsetto of Martyn Jacques a bit grating, but they are so eerie, so macabre, and so darkly funny that I can’t help but love them. Around Jacques’ voice is his ever-present accordion, making the music seem like a ghostly echo from another era. It is accompanied by Adrian Stout on stand-up bass and Adrian Huge on percussion.
They possess this creepy, Something Wicked This Way Comes feel in their music; a horrific 19th century carnival vibe or the soundtrack for a nursery rhyme. Not the sugarcoated modern versions of nursery rhymes, but the dreary and awful stories of disease and death that often spawn these tales. The songs are modern, but I can’t help recalling bleak Dickensian scenes of urban squalor and despair when I hear them.
They have songs like “Heroin and Cocaine” which chronicles a school boy’s addiction and eventual death, “Larder” about a dead body decaying in a larder, “QRV”- a story about this mysterious drug that the whole town is abusing and dying from, “Johnny Head-in-Air” about a young boy being decapitated, and so many more including “Whore,” “Besotted Mother,” “Shockheaded Peter,” “Sodsville,” and “Hertha Strubb” about a young missing, girl feared to be dead. Their discography is long, forming in 1989, and all creepily awesome.
“Snip Snip” appears on Shockheaded Peter and Ad Nauseam. It is the story of a young boy that sucks his thumbs despite his mother’s stern warning that the tall tailor man will snip off his thumbs if he doesn’t stop. Well, he doesn’t stop and the tailor man busts in the door and … well, you’ll see.