Spring a Leak
Australia’s The Lucksmiths’ indie pop career, at nearly every turn, has been overshadowed by their like-minded Scottish brethren. They first had to contend with the ever-burgeoning popularity of Belle & Sebastian, and when that band swapped in bedroom anthems for Broadway pomp, Camera Obscura quickly filled the void. This year the Scots seemed to stop and take a breath, and Matinee Recordings wisely compiled a two salvo shot of The Lucksmiths’ singles, covers and other odds and sods to prime a potential fan base on what they’ve been missing.
Spring a Leak is a true testament to the different moods and sounds the band wears. “Point Being” is smooth and chiming, a limber take on Byrds-ian folk, while “The Winter Proper” sinks its hooks deep into its minor chords. “I Prefer the Twentieth Century” goes the no-fi route, distorting the drums and guitar in equal measure, and the punk (“Off With His Cardigan!”) and country (“Requiem For the Punters Club”) sides of pop are touched on as well. It speaks to the band’s strength as arrangers that these side alley forays don’t sound at all clashing in the context of this release’s 45 songs. In fact, the members’ lock on “The Lucksmiths’ sound” is so strong even obvious covers (The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” and The Modern Lovers’ “Dignified and Old”) are virtually indistinguishable from songwriter Marty Donald’s compositions.
Lyrically, Donald’s songs couldn’t be better painted pictures of exuberant slacking (“A Year of Driving Languorously”), slagging off the musical competition (“Are You Having a Good Time?!?!”), trading songs for debts (“$30”) and, most importantly, wrenching the heart (“Postcard”).
In an era of music where inundation is almost assured and interests are so fleeting and fickle, Spring a Leak is a document strong enough not only to command notice, but to cement a band you didn’t even realize existed as one of your favorites.
Matinee Recordings: www.indiepages.com/matinee