Wednesday, September 21, 2005

the lucksmiths - warmer corners [album review]

[Matinĕe, 2005]

It looks like Australia is the new Scotland in terms of indie music these days. Scottish acts like Belle & Sebastian, The Pastels, The Field Mice (and other Clare Records bands), and The Trembling Blue Stars have all had their day as far as the twee/indie-pop scene goes. Well maybe not, but the center of attention is definitely shifting a little towards the southern hemisphere. But before I go any further, this may prove useful:

Twee (n): Twee (or Twee pop) is a type of indie rock that is known for simple, sweet melodies and lyrics, often with jangling guitars.

This term is central to understanding what the aforementioned bands are doing, as well as the new surge of Australian acts (and New Zealand artists – well, one of them – The Brunettes are a useful point of reference). Architecture in Helsinki (Melbourne) have made a name for themselves with the quirkier twee sounds found on their recent In Case We Die LP, and now, The Lucksmiths further the twee contigence down under with their eighth full length, Warmer Corners.

It’s beautiful, of course. While certainly indebted to their Scottish influences, they don’t try to make it a secret. Instead, they build upon this heritage in areas that Belle & Sebastian tended not to. Where they are sarcastic, The Lucksmiths are sincere – but not too melodramatic. Lyrically, they ooze wit and literacy like any good twee band should. The words fit together so well during Warmer Corners that all the songs are near-perfect, especially when coupled with some of the most beautiful melodies found of late. And oh – that Australian accent! It suits this style of guitar music so well – especially as their Scottish counterparts have been the only real option for anyone yearning for something exuberantly twee. It’s strangely refreshing, and by no means a rehashing of their influences.

The instrumentation is meticulously arranged throughout, on an album full of diversity. Time is split equally between twee numbers of a faster pace (“Sunlight in a Jar”) and slower twee songs with more melancholy (“I Don’t Want to Walk Around Alone”). It still retains a singular aesthetic of quaintness and exquisiteness throughout. Well-written pop songs are ultimately what holds Warmer Corners together. It’s mature, delicate, enduring and is sure to take a spot in the best albums of 2005 lists of writers everywhere.

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