PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

The Lucksmiths: Warmer Corners

Justin Cober-Lake

I know they're Australian and easy-going, but please don't continue to overlook the Lucksmiths.


The Lucksmiths

Warmer Corners

Label: Matinee
US Release Date: 2005-04-11
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

It's simple to see why the Lucksmiths haven't gotten the attention they deserve. It's all so easy. The jangly guitars and pleasant melodies don't demand anything of the listener and make ideal hammock accompaniment. Songs like those on Warmer Corners could have come from anyone; it's just the kind of pop music that's out there for anyone to record.

Or at least it seems that way. Upon reflection, the Lucksmiths have a fair amount going on in their music, starting with the formal structure of the lyrics. The singing flows so smoothly, it's almost as if these are melodies you've heard before, yet the band seldom uses standard pop phrasing, loading the lines with enjambment and avoiding any sing-song sense that could easily arise. The vocalists tend to perform these lengthy lines across comfortable chord changes that, along with the occasional colloquialisms, lend a conversational feel to what are actually very smart and carefully-composed verses.

In terms of content, the lyrics (provided primarily by guitarist Marty Donald and Bassist Mark Monnone) sift through subtle shifts of mood, never reaching ecstasy or despair while exploring the emotions of the everyday. At times, they've got a funny side, as in "Great Lengths", which contains the gem "You had your father's charm and thus your mother's Volvo". Even in the moment of humor, the Lucksmiths keep the lyric just off-kilter. With the slant-rhyme of car so readily apparent, Donald throws in the precise twist of Volvo. The word choice allows him to draw attention to the oddity of the statement even while adding specificity to the scene.

Musically, the band relies more on the loveliness of its sound than on memorable hooks or technical proficiency, and I'll take that in a minute. The orchestration works really well, from the addition of horns to the smooth use of pedal steel guitar. The sound of the album gives a friendlier invitation than the often disappointed or wistful lyrics, but it, too, never hedges toward euphoria. This isn't window-down music; it's a head-against-the-pane soundtrack. The Lucksmiths create art without artsiness and evoke emotion without melodrama. What could be easier than that?

So all of that's very nice and academic, but the Lucksmiths sound easy. The effect is that you find yourself playing this record more than you anticipated, because not only is it easy to the ears, but it's easy to connect to. You find yourself drawn toward little touches like the cello and the whistling on "I Don't Want to Walk Around No More". Or, if you're feeling happier, you skip ahead just one track to "The Fog of Trujillo", which encapsulates that moment when you realize your current relationship is just what you want, and why. The lounge-y horns sounds are restful bliss.

The group smartly closes Warmer Corners with the album's best ending track (it sounds obvious, but it's not always done). "Fiction" begs for interpretation, raises questions of narrator reliability, and generally po-mos itself up. But forget that, because it's beautiful. It's acoustic guitar and banjo and pedal steel and desire and nostalgia and romance. It's about a tattoo. It's about something lost, and something held, and something perfect in its distance. It's a fiction, and reality. It's earnestness and deceit. It's beautiful.

For the first time on the album, the Lucksmiths call attention to themselves, or at least to a song. But then you forget about that immediately, because you're really paying attention to that beer bottle on the bookshelf (theirs and yours) and that longing that they have no part in. And you also remember your fulfillment.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.