The Lucksmiths

Warmer Corners

(Matinee; 2005)

By Peter Hepburn | 26 January 2008

In a vain search to find an album to fend off the dreary malaise that accompanies the sort of long, slow rain we’ve been getting here on East coast, I’ve gone through what seems like an endless amount of options. The new Sleater-Kinney, while incredible, is just too dark; the new Malkmus too summery; Art Brut far too silly. Instead I have settled on the Lucksmiths’ Warmer Corners, an album chock full of pop songs that sparkle while dealing mostly with pain and distance. Think Beulah but with cool accents and less indebted to the Beach Boys.

Of course, it’s little wonder that the Lucksmiths have the formula down by now. Warmer Corners is the Australian band’s seventh album, and though not a major leap from last year's Naturaliste, the songwriting seems tighter and the production steady --- its flourishes are minimal (a simple, poppy horn section here and there) but work well to counterbalance the occasionally dark lyrical matter.

It’s pretty clear that Marty Donald had a loved one go on extended vacation at some point here. “The Music Next Door,” “Great Lengths" and “The Chapter of Your Life" reference trips and long-distance relationships. He doesn’t beat it to death, though, and almost always captures the emotion well. On the vaguely Belle & Sebastian-feeling “Now I’m Even Further Away,” he sings plaintively: “My one desire is that beautiful sound / The sound of your voice tickling inside of my mind.”

When we get away from the imagery of loneliness and distance, White stays pretty dark. The beautiful “Hiccup in Your Happiness” sounds like fellow Aussie Darren Hanlon fronting Ivy (circa-’97), but the lyrics could be straight off the last Stars album. The closing duo are standouts: “The Fog of Trujillo” is a breezy love song; while “Fiction,” with it’s a capella opening lines and fantastic narrative, is the best song on the album.

The Aussie accents and relatively canned feel to much of the music really is offset by the great songwriting and occasional solid hook. “Great Lengths” sports both a nice little drum hook in the chorus and the great line, “You had your father’s charm / And thus your mother’s Volvo.” There are enough of these little touches scattered through the album to make Warmer Corners more than just inoffensive pop fuzz; it’s smart, depressing, inoffensive pop perfect for a rainy day.