It was mid August, 1999 and my parents pulled into the small college town of Pullman, Washington. They left me standing at the side of the road as I waved goodbye. Thousands of miles away in Paris, The Lucksmiths were recording an EP. Years later, the music they defined themselves by would become the pleasant music of my dreams. The EP was Staring At The Sky, a well crafted pop album that comes to us from a group of Australians whose mastery of song brings pleasant twists and turns, accented harmonies, and a variety of instruments true to the genre of twee. The Lucksmiths are true masters at songcraft, each one presenting a new aspect of common life like a nostalgic existential poem.
“Smokers In Love” opens the album on a high point. Harmonies add depth and a melodica adds mystery. This upbeat peppy song is an obvious hit that will have feet tapping to the beats and voices humming to the la las from the first note. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better” slows things down and features the piano with an occasional trumpet and trombone duet in the background. The final track on the A-side of this 10-inch, “ie, eg, etc”, replaces the horns and melodica for the harmonica.
A nice aspect of 10- and 12-inch records is that the B-Side allows an artist to make a second first impression and The Lucksmiths use this to full advantage. The song kicks off with a sample from what sounds like an old movie or an old news interview. Piano heavy with a light guitar shuffle, “The Golden Age of Aviation” makes awkward rhymes pure art in the catchy chorus:
And the novelty wore off
When the pilots still wore goggles
But your eyes look skywards
And your mind still boggles…
Horns take the bridge and carry through the closing chorus of “goggles/boggles” to finish out the song. “Before the Sun Came Up” continues the acoustic theme. It’s a shame the vocals are barely audible though, as The Lucksmiths are excellent storytellers. “The Opposite of Coffee” could easily be what influenced Pehr Records English darlings Arco. The bass leads the melody while an acoustic guitar keeps the rhythm. Soft, melodic and ballad to the core, the song is a perfect closer for a perfect pop EP.
This review was originally published June 21, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.
1. Smokers In Love
2. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better
3. ie, eg, etc.
4. The Golden Age Of Aviation
5. Before The Sun Came Up
6. The Opposite Of Coffee