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  The Lucksmiths  
  Drive In  
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I am in the process of going through all of the stuff that I’ve been listening to this year and composing my traditional End of Year compilation. In so doing, I am running across a lot of music that has been integral and often omnipresent to my listening in 2003, but that didn’t get reviewed for one reason or another. These are three albums that fall into that category. I think the reason they never got reviewed is that, while I adore all three groups, and while I listened to all three steadily from point of release until now, none of them are really anything new or different from what the bands have done before, respectively.

It might make sense to read the reviews in the order I wrote them. Or not. Whatever.

  1. Electric Version by The New Pornographers
  2. Naturaliste by The Lucksmiths
  3. Red Devil Dawn by Crooked Fingers
Brendan's Disclaimer:
  Malimus, bless his heart, submitted this series of reviews in one document. That's all good and well, but i can't cram three albums worth of header information into that little space you see above. Therefore, i have broken this into three reviews, each on their own page. There is a fair amount of redundancy, but each review is designed to stand on it's own as well.  

If you scamper over to our review of Why That Doesn't Surprise Me, and replace all of the specific references to the album title with Naturaliste, and make a point to swap out song titles for new ones where referenced, you’re going to have a basically sound description of the latest album as well.

This album, like the others i am comparing it to, is slightly disappointing precisely because of it's predictability. Naturaliste does come across as of-a-pattern a little more than the others, and maybe disappoints a little more because of it.

But on another level, one probably needs to ask, why would bands who have already “found themselves” so to speak, and who all have rabid fan bases who support them, make changes to their sounds midstream? Simply to prove they can? That borders perilously close to beat-the-crap-out-of-the-pretentious-kid for my tastes. To make sure critics say gushy things about their “willingness to improvise and push their own boundaries?” Fuck critics. Most of us are on the wrong side of that same border anyway. Experimentation and expansion of palette is all fine and good, and I’d hate to live in a world where no one kept pop music alive and fluid by injections of the new, but they are not ends of themselves. Many fine musicians have churned out complete dreck in the attempt to prove themselves more than “just a pop star,” to the general detriment of the rest of us.

The point, I guess, is sometimes, you just want a freakin’ cheeseburger. Yes, it’s great to drop by the hole-in-the-wall Malaysian place for some piping hot pad thai, but you’d be rather sad if Zesto’s replaced good old number two with anything involving rice noodles. To me, all three of these bands are basically cheeseburgers, and while I can understand where some people might ask, “why can’t they add spicy mustard for a change,” I am personally fond of your basic yellow mustard in a squeezy-tipped bottle.

I believe my metaphor has run away from me. I’ll sum up with the big sponge assignment as pay off.

Naturaliste is a solid outing by an Australian brit-pop band. If you’ve liked anything in their previous catalogue you’re likely to enjoy this one too. If you’re a fan of Crowded House, I strongly suggest you give The Lucksmiths a whirl. If you think XTC was most perfect in their radio friendly moments, by all means, buy this album. But if you don’t think any of those things, if you don’t like clean, guitar and piano driven brit-pop with flourishes of wind and brass, or if you think the Finn brothers absolutely blow, avoid this album. I give Naturaliste three sponges. I like their entire catalogue, and aside from a bit of formulaic disappointment, I like this disc too. Mrs. Malimus rightly points out that previous Lucksmiths albums were better cheeseburgers, as if they forgot some spice this time around, but still, it’s a cheeseburger.

Related Links:

Why That Doesn't Surprise Me, a previous album by The Lucksmiths.


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