The Luyas' lineup is crazily unconventional as is: 12-string electric zither, wurlitzer organ, French horn, drums, and the odd, bird-like voice —equal parts tiny chirp and throaty squawk— of leader Jessie Stein. Yet, even then, they barely stick to it; the Montréal quartet an indefinable proposition that flies in the face of rock convention.
Applying rote genre terms —psychedelic, experimental, indie-pop, whatever— to the second Luyas LP, Too Beautiful to Work, is a fool's errand. Here, the combo further they work they began on 2007's overlooked and still-sadly-obscure Faker Death: perverting the familiarity of songform until it becomes the unfamiliar.
Metallic percussion crashes, organ hammers, distortion squalls, French horn exhales, tuned percussion pings, Owen Pallett's fiddle scrapes and sings. Amidst all the cacophony and carnage, The Luyas still sound like a band, but just a band, interrupted; Stein's sad-girl songs exploded, with fragments and shrapnel and half-burnt thoughts then reassembled in impressionist mosaics of hallucinated pop-song.
Phantoms in the Brain
Amidst the fallout, the furore, and the feedback, Stein is forever there, a tiny voice amidst looming sounds; a figure lingering in the shadows of the noise; her words drifting and floating through these sonic storms like little lost ghosts.
Her lyrics are eternally half-obscured, wholly suggestive: "time should eat you," Stein starts, on "Tiny Head"; "listen to my fingers/try to get a grip now" she repeats, like mantra, mid-"Moodslayer"; "I'd still see the colours dripping" she croaks, as guitar scrapes like chair legs on tiles and French horn squeaks like a door creaking, in "Seeing Things." The words are as small as her voice; hesitant and suggestive, yet right there, in your ear.
Stein sings inkblot songs about daydreams and dementia; psychological states closely connected, historically, to artistic output. Matching such words to music unmoored from straight rhythms, warm chords, and genre tropes, The Luyas paint an inner landscape at odds with a corporeal world unexpectedly elusive; authoring a series of hazy musical canvases where nothing is truly tangible, unease persists, and strangeness reins.
Record Label: Dead Oceans
Release Date: February 22, 2011