The Luyas' Too Beautiful to Work (due out Feb 22), is a study in atmospheric textures. Jessie Stein's waifish vocals permeate the album with a dreamy vagueness, fitting in well with the quavery, quirky backing music. Flanged, rotating synth sounds meld with fluid, electronic washes, and echoed orchestral horns. With help from Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld, Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy), Colin Stetson, and others, the Luyas have created a moody exploration of experimental space.
On the upbeat, poppy side, Too Beautiful to Work, lays out an indie pop vibe, with an underlying dance aesthetic. The dreamy undercurrent is propagated by the off beat phrasing of Stein's sweet voice and the odd collection of supporting sounds. This yields to to the spacey psychedelic pop of Tiny Head. Here the sparse, echoed start works against a steady pop beat. The song fills up with busy percussion. Ultimately, it evokes a dream state where nothing quite fits together on a rational level but somehow it all makes sense at the time.
The tension of Canary, adds depth to the album. Here, the dreams shift to the uncontrolled edges of nightmare. The lyrics about sacrifice and the sonic mood are disquieting, contrasting with Stein's childlike voice to create a macabre feel. The threatening vibe is heightened by the single sustained chord in the background at the start. A bit like a missing tooth, I came back to this track again and again. The cotton swathed horns in the middle and the pulsating tones at the end further the sense of chaos for Canary. Too Beautiful to Work would have been a shallower experience without this darkness.
A smoky fire, a touch of brandy, and a room filled with candles provide the perfect listening room for the Luyas. Keep an eye out as they start their US tour in March.