The Lucksmiths - A Little Distraction

matcd027  /  September 2003
The Lucksmiths - A Little Distraction
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The Lucksmiths - A Little Distraction

matcd027  /  September 2003

The Lucksmiths have had a remarkably busy year, recording recent album "Naturaliste" and playing sold out live dates in Australia, USA, Japan, England, Spain and Sweden. Now they spoil us again with a brand new mini-album "A Little Distraction" featuring six exclusive, eclectic songs. The music is warm and familiar - recalling the classic jangle of The Pastels and The Wedding Present as well as the infectious summery strum of Jonathan Richman. As usual, things are lyrically close to home. The opening track "Transpontine" dissects Melbourne's famed north-south rivalry, whilst (metaphorically perhaps) warning of the dangers of trekking too far afield. The dynamically bipolar "Successlessness" is a consolation to a disillusioned lover with sublime 12-string guitar adding just enough chime to reassure the listener of the song's sentiment. Elsewhere, The Lucksmiths strip things back on the heartfelt and yearning title track, and find themselves wandering through a darker, jazzier terrain as "Moving" takes a turn for the esoteric. Concluding with the ultra-poppy hit "After the After Party" and the lovely "Honey Honey Honey," it's all here and more. Reminiscent of their brilliant "Staring At The Sky" CD from 1999, "A Little Distraction" is the Lucksmiths at their very best. Deluxe digipak edition.

  1. Transpontine
  2. Successlessness
  3. Little Distraction
  4. Moving
  5. After the After Party
  6. Honey Honey Honey


The Lucksmiths' A Little Distraction EP kicks off with one of the most enchanting pop songs of the year. "Transpontine" has a wonderful, easygoing melody and a sticks-like-glue chorus. Its melancholy wonder will have you wondering how a song this good could be anything less than on the lips of every pop-loving downloader in the world. The rest of the disc is almost as good. Main songwriter Marty Donald seems able to crank out near-perfect pop songs with frightening regularity. Each song has a beautiful melody and thoughtful lyrics. Each song also has the angelic vocals of Tali White. His voice is breathless and intimate with just enough awkwardness to keep it from being too smooth. Along with "Transpontine," some of the other tracks here rank right up there with the band's best: the sad, low-key "Moving" and the energetic and hooky "Successlessness." This EP is not a stopgap or a bunch of leftover songs (well, they may be, but they are great leftover songs), it is a record any Lucksmiths fan needs to have. In a perfect world, this, and all of the band's other releases, would be in everyone's collection.   --All Music Guide
The title of The Lucksmiths' new 6-song CD, A Little Distraction, is the name of one of the songs on it but also serves as a friendly, self-deprecating disclaimer that this is just a short CD between albums. Don't take the title too seriously; these songs are just as beautiful, catchy, and charming as those on their recent album Naturaliste, if not as ambitious in terms of textures and arrangements. In mood this CD echoes the quiet introspection of Naturaliste, though in length, style and lyrical content it feels even closer to the group's 2000 release Staring At the Sky. Like that CD, this one shows off the trio's knack at taking stories and moments from everyday life and turning them into perfectly crafted pop songs. Gifted songwriters all, the three bring you into their world by putting their experiences into songs you'll find yourself singing along to after only a few listens. From the opener "Transpontine," about reconsidering a place you've always rejected as not worth visiting, to the closing "Honey Honey Honey," about the appeal of the city late at night when you know you really should be in bed, the Lucksmiths turn universal appearances into singular works of magic.   --Erasing Clouds
Those antipodean angels return with a new EP that sounds, well, that sounds just like The Lucksmiths. When I got the EP in the mail there was a note inside saying 'here's the new EP by The Lucksmiths, influenced by themselves', and it's a decent point to make because the band have really etched out a groove for themselves, have carefully nurtured a sound that is instantly recognisable as being no-one else. Sure, the touch of other artists on their collective soul is still discernable as a soft reflection on their finely grained surface (here it's Morrissey's 'I Know Very Well How I Got My Name' that seems to float in across 'Honey Honey Honey' for example), but there are few others who can get away with this kind of gentle wordsmithery and lightly stroked sunlit chords and make it stick.   --Tangents
you know, the ever-wondrous lucksmiths perhaps suffer a little through their work ethic, which has seen them unleash a stream of unimpeachable albums over the same time period it takes kevin shields to get out of bed. records that would stand the test of several summers find themselves swiftly superseded because the band, not restricted by only having one songwriter, are an eternal spring, constantly unleashing little fountains of pop goodness. as such, we become blasé as each new outpouring reaches our ears and take the quality rather for granted. it is almost impossible to think of another band who have released so many records without ever having lost the plot from time to time - even the fall, who we're trying to mention in every review this month, have been responsible for two dodgy albums in their 27 years. the lucksmiths realise that the song is timeless and that to pursue musical bandwagons as they come and go is less a recipé for longevity than a prescription for disaster (or, failing that, being the soup dragons). the lucksmiths' appeal is not hard to fathom - no-one ever lost too many friends by mixing hummable melodies with wry and affecting lyrics, and the six-tracker is a format that suits the lucksmiths well because unlike many artistes these days, including many a band we also clutch dear to our tender frames, they're not going to waste half of them by heading for instrumental, experimental or expressionist territory so you know you're going to get half a dozen proper tunes, with hooks and words and everything. and any band, especially after so many years and with so many hits* under their belt, that still refuse to be worn down by the world's indifference and are able to remind you of both the best of sarah (the sugargliders-like "moving") and the best of creation (with its harmonica, "successlessness" starts as almost the young untainted spirit of bbp!) has to be commended. then again, "after the afterparty" is one of those lucksmiths songs where the guitar jangles along on single chords in a sort of wedding present stylee whilst the bass does the melodic work. and we almost forgot the first cut "transpontine", which deals with typical disarming genius with the north / south divide affecting so many of our river cities. when we first heard the lucksmiths - it was, unrepresentatively, with their game cover of boyracer's sublime "i've got it and it's not worth having" - we had no conception of the well of wit and wisdom that lay beyond. anyway - you guessed it - we've got this and it's well worth having. that is all.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times 
Melbourne trio Tali White, Mark Monnone and Marty Donald are already five albums into their career and so difficult to pigeonhole they've attracted comparisons as diverse as Belle & Sebastian and fellow countrymen The Go-Betweens. White's penchant for a basic drum kit that he plays standing up while singing hints at a broader outlook however, harking back to the kind of classic pop blueprinted by the likes of Buddy Holly. Fear not, The Lucksmiths are no rock 'n' roll revivalists, rather they marry the beatific simplicity of Holly's writing to the kind of featherlight pop melodies recently embraced by Jonathan Richman (an acknowledged influence) and Spearmint. White's plain, expressive voice is moulded into shapes remarkably evocative of Paul Heaton ('Honey Honey Honey') and Billy Bragg ('Transpontine'), and even though they edge toward tweeness by the end, on the whole this is perfectly formed retro-pop.   --Logo Magazine
Australian trio The Lucksmiths, whose previous output has earned high marks from some of Splendid's fussiest reviewers, have put together six songs that encapsulate everything good about Pop music. Though the band sounds very much like underground heroes Gene (note Tali White's accented vocals and Mark Monnone's lulling bass lines), there's something fresh and innocent about their songs, especially the beautiful opening track, "Transpontine", in which White urges us to "Remember when you're wandering alongside / the river has a right side / and a wrong side." There's nothing as transformative and inspiring as a well-written pop song, and the rest of A Little Distraction showcases five more such tracks, including the upbeat, harmonica-laced "Successlessness", an aptly titled and bittersweet ode to the slacker lifestyle: "One day we'll be poor no more / I'm almost sure / Let's not let successlessness get the best of us / my love." "Little Distraction", "Moving" and "After the After Party" make use of acoustic guitars to slow things down, all leading to the EP's closer, the Sinister-era Belle and Sebastian-influenced "Honey Honey Honey". Focused yet patient, A Little Distraction is exactly what its title suggests -- a pleasant escape from the doldrums and hyped-out misery that indie-pop has become.   --Splendid
It's been a mighty 18 months for the Lucksmiths, and as they prepare to come and play in the UK, they've just gone and topped the lot by releasing this gorgeous mini-album. The six tracks here show perfectly why so many pop fans love The Lucksmiths, from the beautiful, laid back glow of 'Transportine', 'A Little Distraction' and 'Moving' to more familiar territory of 'Successlessness' and the staggering 'After the After Party', this is just about the most perfect pop there is at the moment. Quite how I managed to ignore these lot when they were supporting Hefner a few years back is beyond me. Make sure you don't miss them...ermm..pop-pickers.   --Tasty
The Lucksmiths are back. On their new EP, A Little Distraction, listeners are given everything they've come to expect from the Aussies. Added to the mix (glockenspiel, guitar, drums, bass) are two guests, Craig Pilkington and Richard Herbert, on additional guitar and piano. The result? A much richer and fuller sound than that of some previous Lucksmiths releases, but no less charming. "Transpotine" and "Successlessness" are both gentle, bringing to mind the last days of summer. The latter is also the pop equivalent of a blues tune, with harmonica and bass keeping the song moving. "Little Distraction" starts out with guitar and vocals, joined later by drums and bass played with such soft touches that you hardly notice the additions. "Moving," what I would consider the standout track, is a cool ode to playing music, drums and bass at the fore. "After the After Party" is straight up rocking and finds the boys doing what they do best, playing a love song. The closer here, "Honey Honey Honey," finds the band lamenting the rockstar life style and wishing they could go to bed at a reasonable hour. The whole EP is solid and, while not a departure from their other material, could win the band some new fans (with some help from college radio programmers).   --Delusions of Adequacy
Another Lucksmiths record--what have we done to deserve this?? Really, it's been quite a wonderful year for this Aussie indiepop trio. A well-received new album, a big, succcessful tour of the US and Europe, and a growing fanbase--what better way to celebrate a great year than by releasing yet another wonderfully wonderful pop record? They've got love and songs a-plenty, so they've decided to give us a handy-dandy little mini-album of some great new tunes. Seriously, these pop dudes have yet to make a bum record, and considering the amount of music they put out, you'd expect some slippage, but A Little Distraction is a wonderfully strong record. One peculiar point to be made about the Lucksmiths is that their singles and EP's are often much better than their albums. That doesn't mean their albums are bad, but it seems as if they have a stronger focus when the format offers songs in small doses; they write great singles, and that's their strong point. It also helps to explain why their strongest albums are their singles collections. As such, A Little Distraction is one strong, tight mini-album. Kicking off with the lovely and slightly sad "Transpontine," The Lucksmiths set the mellow acoustic mood quite quickly. They pick up the pace with the lovely, harmonica-laden and tongue-twistingly titled "Successlessness," an ode to love in spite of money: "One day we'll be poor no more/I'm almost sure enough before/Then let's not let successlessness get the best of us, my love." Such great lyrics, such a catchy chorus, it was a shame that I had to turn off the CD to get those lyrics (cheeky boys they are, putting the lyrics on the CD itself!) The magic continues with the title track, "Moving," and the lovely one-two closing punch of "After the After Party" and "Honey Honey Honey." If you're like me, you'll be hard-pressed to make it to the end of the CD the first few times, because you'll simply hit 'repeat' after each song is over. A Little Distraction is a nice little distraction from one of Australia's premier--if not the premier--indiepop bands. Another fine addition to both The Lucksmiths' esteemed discography and the Matinée label's track record. If you've ever wondered why they're so well thought of, then this record is a fine introduction. Hate to sound like a broken record, but A Little Distraction is an unsurprisngly wonderful record by an unsurprisingly wonderful pop band on an unsurprisingly wonderful pop label.   --Mundane Sounds
The day The Lucksmiths turn sinister I'll know the world is, without a doubt, corrupt. Until then, I can revel in the little corner of quaint that is their ever-growing discography. I should, however, explain that an abused adjective like quaint perhaps trivialises the genius of their idiom. The new EP 'A Little Distraction' demonstrates the boys' capabilities, spanning subversive, embracing, charming, witty and profound across a mere 20 minutes. However, the sound is recognisably the Lucksmiths, and if it wasn't, I think I'd almost be disappointed. They're one of the few bands I enjoy for their dependable consistency, the base of which rests in their perennially clever lyrics and apparently simple, but magnetic melodies. The opener, "Transpontine" starts the disc with a leisurely wander through suburban politics, warning us that "the river has a right side and a wrong side". Its slow-pace and regretful tone stand as an appropriate platform from which to reach the accelerated hopefulness of the following track, "Successlessness". Here a 12-string and accompanying harmonica ring out, arriving at a level of buoyant optimism, "Let's not less successlessness get the best of us". Later, the funky walking bass of Moving and syncopation of "Honey Honey Honey" show the boys haven't lost their groove. Not surprisingly, much of the EP takes its inspiration from the mystery and enchantment of love, but in this case (as is always the case with The Lucksmiths) reworking an over-used subject matters little, because the gentlemen do it with an unrivalled wit and honesty. The perfect distraction from the façade of 21st century existence, "A Little Distraction" shows us how to sit back and take it all in with a grain of salt, whilst giving out a much needed pinch of sugar.   --Oz Music Project