Lustre will light up your life. So goes the closing quote on the press release placard for Ed Harcourt’s fifth album. Usually these kinds of statements are a bit of hype designed to play on potential consumers’ sensibilities, but this time the promotional shoe fits. Following the success of his previous record, The Beautiful Lie, it’s clear from start to finish that Harcourt has honed his piano-propelled songwriting even further on Lustre, to present his audience with a wide array of stylistic flourishes.
The opening title track builds an ethereal siren-song chorus into rich organ work that perfectly fits the message of seeing the silver lining in everything. The incredible crisp kick drum bounce of “Haywired” carries the record forward into the subdued, but not subtle, iconoclasm of “Church of No Religion”, where Harcourt sings in his throaty rasp, “I have my head screwed on like a nail in the cross”. The surf-rock sunshine of “Do As I Say Not As I Do” addresses the issue of double standards, and the piano ballad “Lachrymosity” reminds us that sadness is inevitable, but not necessarily detrimental, to living. Harcourt does his best David Bowie impression on “When the Lost Don’t Want to be Found”, and closes the album with “Fears of a Father”, a song about the wonders and worries of parenthood. Lustre is ultimately an album that greets life’s up and downs, victories and defeats, calms and frenzies, with enthusiasm. Put another way: Ed Harcourt will light up your life.