On her debut EP, "Self-Taught Learner," Lissie Trullie sounds pouty, moody and little spoiled. When the New York-based, D.C.-bred singer walked on stage at the Rock and Roll Hotel last night with her all-male backing trio, it seemed she might act that way, too. But the fetching Trullie -- who looked like she sauntered right out of a circa '65 Warhol shoot -- was surprisingly no-nonsense, strapping on a Fender strat and whipping through an agreeable, if not particularly inventive, set of pop-rock.
Trullie, who is just as likely to turn up in a de la Renta look book as in Pitchfork, puts her musical stakes down on a middle-ground between dawn-of-the-Eighties guitar pop (think Blondie's "Sunday Girl," The Rubinoos "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend") and the prep-school riffery of the Strokes. Songs like "Money" and "She Said" were indicative, bopping along harmlessly and occasionally stumbling onto little patches of melody that her band seemed to almost shy away from. In fact, Trullie's guitar-bass-drums backing combo did little to help her songs, playing with a firm commitment to innocuousness, especially on a cover of Hot Chip's "Ready for the Floor," which was nearly blanched beyond recognition.
Trullie's cool, throaty purr is her strongest musical asset and when she leaned into "Forget About It," it was possible to imagine her eventually growing beyond the pop-rock influences that now define her songs. For now -- as the clutch of photographers that hovered near the lip of the stage for most of the set attested -- she's more interesting to look at than listen to.
--Patrick Foster, April 2009