July 06, 2003

The Lucksmiths "Naturalise"

Australia produces some wonderful pop music. From Kylie to INXS and back through Nick Cave, Sekiden through Go-Betweens, it seems as if they're one of the last bastions of excellent craft in music. Was music destroyed in some sort of moral nuclear war, and Australia was the only country that survived? Okay, so that was slightly stupid, but I wonder about it sometimes. The Lucksmiths have made a name for themselves, it seems; this trio have won over many a indie-pop heart, and are quickly becoming international underground stars. And why not? Naturaliste certainly is a fine record, their finest full-length to date, and if indie stardom is in their future, then they certainly deserve fame and fortune, even on an indie level.

For years, The Lucksmiths toiled away in indie obscurity, releasing a few good albums and tons of stellar singles and EPs. Indeed, it speaks volumes about them that their albums were never quite as stunning as their singles collections, and it's certainly true that for a band that's only been around for eight years, they've already released two such collections. Their albums have been good, yet at times The Lucksmiths' genius never really seemed to translate into a record with more than four songs. Perhaps they realized this; it has been a few years since their last full-length album, and the flow of excellent singles had slowed down to a mere trickle. Naturalise certainly seems to be a more polished effort, indicating that perhaps they chose to spend a little more time on a full-length effort.

Luckily, The Lucksmiths have never really tampered with their award-winning formula, so there's nothing on Naturaliste that comes as a surprise. After many years of performing in their style--acoustic-guitar based pop that's never overwhelming mixed with slow sad-eyed ballads--it's no surprise that their sound is extremely tight. Kicking off with "Camera-Shy," you're instantly drawn in by their charm; lead singer Tali White's voice is strong, confident, and award-winning. Of course, Naturaliste does include their best song, "Midweek Midmorning," so you know that the quality's gonna be at least B+ simply because of that awesome song. I considered that one of the best pop songs of 2002, and with its inclusion on this album, I'm happy to extend its reign. It's also nice to admit that such an award could easily go to any of the other songs on Naturaliste--especially the utterly lovely "Sleep Well" or the smary-pants titled "There is A Boy That Never Goes Out."
Each song is a heartbreaker and crush-inducing...just take your pick!

Nautraliste is a great album. End of story. Period. It may seem a bit smug to be so cut-and-dry about it, but, really, why mince words? If you've always wondered what the fuss is about, Naturaliste will answer any questions you might have. Good job!

--Joseph Kyle

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