The Lucksmiths – First Frost (Fortuna POP!)
Melbourne’s The Lucksmiths are a band to whom, by now, the phrase ‘return to form’ means nothing at all. If your ‘form’, such as it is, means consistently churning out breezy indie-pop intricacies and curios over the course of eleven LPs with a gradually rising bar of quality, then your ‘form’ such as it is cannot possibly be returned to. The tendency among commentators is to assert journalistic authority and say “No! Truly, this is the finest Lucksmiths LP so far,” whenever one is released. As it stands, First Frost probably isn’t their finest, but that means nothing when your ‘form’, such as it is – you understand.
There are musical elements that mark something of a small explosion for the band. Louis Richter is finally felt on the guitar and makes excellent melodic contributions throughout, implicitly adding another line to the mix with surprisingly far-reaching results (hear his mournful, sweet plod on The National Mitten Registry). The extra instrumental arrangements have also reached a new level of crisp accomplishment, particularly demonstrable on the opening The Town And Hills (incidentally a Richter-penned number). After waiting for almost too long, the simplistic guitars open up into a cascading collection of horns and strings too pretty to render the first half of the song frustrating. Neat trick.
Because it’s a Lucksmiths record, there’s a great deal of lyrical bite to explore too, often the gift of Marty Donald. The drawn-out rhyme scheme and elaborate story of A Sobering Thought is impressive, but some of the gloopier moments show a slightly more wistful bent – perhaps more than before. Pines is seasonal duality, sleepy sentiment and its perfect musical accompaniment, and a lovely moment among many.
The sleeve and inlay are pure cutesy understatement – various ranch-like scenes of the band at work and play. This affords the listener a strange connection with First Frost. We see The Lucksmiths in absolutely no danger, no rush and with no pressures whatever. These, you might argue, are conditions not best suited to ripping studio sessions, but they provide a rare accompaniment. Leafy vistas in both scene and lyric mirror the music itself with fine taste. But that’s their form, as we’ve discussed. Contented authors, muted discomfort in the lyrics, subtle tweaks of musical formulae; The Lucksmiths have done it again and created their finest LP so far, you might say.
First Frost comes out in early December – visit the band here.