Saturday, 3 January 2009

First Frost - The Lucksmiths (Fortuna Pop!)

It’s a freezing November day, I’m wrapped in a blanket, head-fugged with a cold. ‘First Frost’, an album themed around the concept of city vs. country (FITE!), takes me on an armchair journey and shows me snapshots of different, distant days, a welcome distraction. There’s a lot of weather in this, The Lucksmiths’ eleventh album. Pretty much every song summons the elements; summer on skin, planting rainbows, wind from the north, cold autumn air, a sultry night, leaning into the winter wind.

The rattley, Morrissey-like ‘Up With The Sun’ opens with the evocative couplet ‘New sun behind me, like syrup on my skin / Honey remind me where it is we’ve been’ sung perfectly. Later on in the song, cripes! The Lucksmiths break out some splendid fuzz guitar. Mark Monnone’s ‘South-East Coastal Rendezvous’ kicks along nicely, riven with cracked, jubilant guitar that’s cheerily at odds with the song’s lyrical concerns of wandering in the rain getting hopelessly drenched.

On first listen, ‘A Sobering Thought (Just when One Was Needed)’ prompted an outbreak of seventies-style hands on hips, bending at the waist dancing in the Painting household such is the buoyant nature of its guitar riffage. Today I feel too feeble to move so instead I read the lyrics which initially seem to insinuate they’re about doing a wee on the floor when drunk*, ‘You’re puzzled by the puddles on the floor / It’s time that I came clean about last night.’ Later in the song, it’s a relief to find out that the puddles are in fact the result of a spot of drunken swimming pool breaking and entering.

The fantastically titled ‘The National Mitten Registry’ includes what sounds like a colliery brass band adding to its melancholy waltz (although according to the sleeve notes there are just three people playing various brass instruments) and is apparently written from the point of view of a lost glove (metaphor? Pah!). Twee!!!

The album’s lyric booklet features dreamy photos of sunlight glancing across the misty, frosty garden of the Tasmanian studio in which The Lucksmiths holed themselves up for the creation of this record. The place looks rustically magical and is a pretty convincing argument for escaping to a life of rural calm.

Between them, The Lucksmiths (all of the band have contributed songs here) use hopes, dream, memories, regrets to weave an album you can sink into, a blanket of warm sound. I blow my nose for the ten thousandth time, put ‘First Frost’ on for another spin and daydream my way out of London.

*Most men when questioned admit to mistaking the wardrobe for the lav during at least one drunken nocturnal toilet run, I’ve never really understood this.

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