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.


The Lucksmiths: Where Were We?

Jeremy Schneyer

The Lucksmiths

Where Were We?

Label: Matinee
US Release Date: 2002-04-18

If there was ever a competition for "world's most charming indie band", Australia's Lucksmiths would win it hands down. In a live setting, the combination of singer/stand up drummer Tali White, smiling bassist Mark Monnone, and reserved and focused guitarist Marty Donald has been known to melt the hardest of hearts -- the fact that they work for your money, telling countless amusing anecdotes between songs and infusing their swinging pop with more energy than anyone would have a right to expect, is icing on the cake.

All that, and they make pretty great records too! Last year's Why That Doesn't Surprise Me found itself on many a critic's year-end top-10 list, and for good reason: it was perhaps the most simultaneously breezy, sunny and intelligent record released last year. While the Lucksmiths tend to receive lots of comparisons to their sort-of-namesakes, The Smiths, Donald and Monnone's songs (all of them sung by White, who only writes a very select few) hardly ever resonate with the kind of miserable self-obsession that the Mozzer forged his career from. The band also receives frequent comparisons to Belle & Sebastian, and while that's a slightly more accurate assessment, the Lucksmiths usually favor much simpler, less pretentious arrangements than their Scottish contemporaries.

Instead, The Lucksmiths thrive on witty wordplay (such as "Why don't you let go of your boy and see / You've lost none of your buoyancy"), lazily strummed guitars, and loping, skillful basslines. White's voice is butter-smooth, peppered with his extraordinarily endearing Australian accent. In short, unless you happen to be allergic to witty, well-composed pop music, this is a band that's hard to resist.

Like any good indie band, the Lucksmiths have amassed quite a few singles and compilation tracks over the years. Ten of these such were compiled on 1998's Happy Secret, and now the trend continues with Where Were We?, a collection of fourteen of the band's A-sides, B-sides, compilation tracks, and other such ephemera and rarities. As such, it's not only a must for fans of the band (although diehards will probably already own much of this), but an excellent primer for the Lucksmiths newcomer.

The disc starts out with a classic slice of Lucksmiths with "The Cassingle Revival". With White crooning lines like "And in the dappled sunshine, underneath the clothesline / I spent this afternoon nostalgic for the morning" Donald's guitar jangling unpretentiously and Monnone's bassline loping along effortlessly, the listener is instantly drawn into the Lucksmiths' infectious brand of indie pop.

From there, the disc ranges from the perky, head-bobbing pop of "T-Shirt Weather" and "Can't Believe My Eyes" to more melancholy excursions such as the gorgeous "Tmrw vs. Y'day" and the pensive "Goodness Gracious" ("What a beautiful day for a crushing defeat"). The whole disc through, the Lucksmiths' songs shine with White's endearing vocals, and the band's loose, shimmery take on simple pop tunes. Perhaps my only gripe with this collection is the omission of the band's cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Deep Sea Diving Suit", which would have fit right in with the program. And though newbies might be pointed towards Why That Doesn't Surprise Me as the first place to go for a dose of the Lucksmiths, this, in a pinch, would do just fine. And for those already converted, this is, obviously, a necessity.

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.





'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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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