The Lucksmiths - Where Were We?

matcd019  /  March 2002
The Lucksmiths - Where Were We?
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The Lucksmiths - Where Were We?

matcd019  /  March 2002

Following in the tradition of the Australian trio's highly popular "Happy Secret" album in 1999, "Where Were We?" is an assortment of non-album tracks from singles and various artist compilations over the past three years. Fourteen tracks in total, the album features six songs previously unreleased in the US-including a brand new composition with indie legend Pam Berry on backing vocals-alongside favorites like "T-Shirt Weather", "Even Stevens" and "Friendless Summer." Recorded in Australia, England and the US, this superb collection documents the strong songwriting and memorable melodies that have helped secure the Lucksmiths' renown as one of today's most popular indie bands. After last year's tremendous eight-month world tour promoting the most recent album "Why That Doesn't Surprise Me," the Lucksmiths are set for success on the next level.

  1. The Cassingle Revival
  2. Myopic Friends
  3. A Downside To The Upstairs
  4. Can't Believe My Eyes
  5. I Prefer The Twentieth Century
  6. T-shirt Weather
  7. Tmrw vs Y'day
  8. Southernmost
  9. Even Stevens
  10. The Great Dividing Range (demo)
  11. Friendless Summer
  12. Goodness Gracious
  13. Welcome Home
  14. Mars


Over the course of a half-dozen albums and a stack of singles dating back to 1993, the Lucksmiths have put the "twee" in "between." Exactly the sort of band most bedeviled by comparisons, this Australian trio continues to make up in prolificacy and prettiness (brushed drums, blue-eyed organ, acoustic guitar) what it lacks in originality (brushed drums, blue-eyed organ, acoustic guitar). Straddling the line between the matter-of-fact tragicomedy of the Smiths (the Lucksmiths' heroes and namesake) and the more abstruse pastorales of Belle and Sebastian at a time when even feyness demands a little aggression isn't necessarily noble or nervy, but the results have often been memorable. Sitting on a fence doesn't have to crush a group's balls, though, and key songwriter Marty Donald's lyrics project a boyish (but pre-testosterone) urgency that rescues his delicate melodies from preciousness. The Lucksmiths' best album, last year's Why That Doesn't Surprise Me, came buttoned up for Sunday school but actually played better before Saturday's big date. A stand-up set of EP tracks and b-sides, Where Were We? lacks that album's cohesion but not its understated romanticism or tuneful momentum - it's a soothing tonic for waking up alone the next morning. Innovation is overrated; the Lucksmiths remain underrated.   --Magnet Magazine
Where Were We? is a collection of songs (compilation appearances, single tracks) recorded between 1999-2001 by Australia's Lucksmiths. It's a truly delicious collection too, reaching a myriad of heady heights. There's 'Tmrw vs Y'day' and the lines 'The lessons learned and the bridges burned - these things hurt, these things happen anyway' that ring in my head and bring me close to tears, not for any good reason other than they capture the understanding that feelings, moments, raw nerves transcend geography. Transcend time. And nothing captures that better than great, pure Pop like this. Best of all is the yearning demo for 'The Great Dividing Range'. With added strings it's undoubtedly the highlight of their "Why That Doesn't Surprise Me" album, and here, with just guitar and bass accompanying Tali White's beautifully laconic vocal, it's equally as special. It's a song that will nestle down deep in your heart and set up camp. It's there for the duration. Just like The Lucksmiths.   --Careless Talk Costs Lives
Like Belle & Sebastian with a sense of humor, the Lucksmiths have been delivering smart, witty, relentlessly tuneful pop songs for just as many years as those dour Scots. And where B&S often feel like winter, the Lucksmiths are unquestionably springtime. They write tiny, shining songs whose glorious restraint is one of their chief strengths. Seldom straying beyond a simple snare, spritely guitar and twinkling organ, songs like "The Cassingle Revival" and "A Downside to the Upstairs" rely on cunning tunesmithing rather than indulgent orchestration to make their mark. The masterstroke is Marty Donald's knack for phrase turns and his ability to sing like he's winking. "T-Shirt Weather" is a fantastically bounding ode to warm weather, and even the downcast "Southernmost" sounds strangely hopeful. The Lucksmiths excel in holding back, and their strength is in their willingness to appear limited.   --Shredding Paper
There are those albums you listen to once and chuck in the bin. There are those albums you listen to and think twice about keeping. And there are those albums that you like and slip neatly between The Cure's 'Pornography' and Stump's 'Quirk Out', not to be played until you feel so flippin' weird that you'll search for it again. Then there are the precious things in your collection. The Smiths' 'Meat is Murder' and 'Queen is Dead', Hefner's 'Breaking God's Heart', The Fall's 'Hex Enduction Hour' or maybe even that early Talullah Gosh single. That this scrumptious collection belongs in this particular little clique is worth a street party at least. And this isn't even a proper album. It's a singles and odd and sods compilation, that makes me want to compare it to 'Hatful of Hollow' at the very least. And it easily stands up against such immense expectations, merely for its scope of wonderful pop songs. And the lyrics. And songs that are called 'The Cassingle Revival' and the Morrisey-esque way The Lucksmiths can twist a phrase and make it at the same time hilarious and desperate. You want stand-out tracks?'s tough, but, have a gander at 'Can't Believe My Eyes, 'I Prefer the 20th Century', 'T-shirt Weather' - all three lined up together to make me want to faint with joy, and then swoon to 'Southernmost' and 'The Great Dividing Range'. This is IT. This is the real thing. This is the sort of album you can play at least 15 times continuously without ever, EVER tiring of a single note. All hail the Lucksmiths, for they do it for me.   --Tasty
The Lucksmiths are one of the world's finest indiepop bands and "Where Were We?" confirms their stature. Despite the fact that this collection of singles and EPs was recorded in various studios between 1999 and 2001, there is a definite thread of continuity. That thread is solid songwriting and strong musicianship, including bass lines that stick in your mind all day. Despite slight changes in production value, each track jingles with a spark of life and happiness and the songs about reviving the cassingle and enjoying beautiful summer weather with friends will easily win you over. A fine collection.   --Devil In The Woods
The Lucksmiths are truly special, one of those bands that makes you feel good to be alive to witness them. Their sharp, trim sound--one drum, one bass, one guitar and vocals, with an occasional organ or horn--puts their superb melodies, hooks and lyrics right in front. Their lyrics rely on clever wordplay and heart-on-sleeve emotion to convey day-to-day life, places and situations in a humorous, humane way. They sing songs about friends, holidays, boredom, sunshine, attraction, loneliness, heartbreak and so much more on Where Were We?, a collection of non-album-tracks recorded between 1999 and 2001. It's a scrapbook of what they've been up to and where they've been, recorded all over: in six different places in their native Australia, plus London, Brooklyn and College Park, Maryland. Where the songs come from is a story of the busy musicians' lives they lead. There's songs from: a 7" commemorating their 2001 North American Summer tour, a sampler CD from a tour of Japan, a 7" celebrating New Year's Eve 2000, compilations for an assortment of indie labels (Candle, Red Square, Drive-In, Red Roses For Me) and some of their own EPs and 7"s. And there's lots of great songs, from upbeat numbers like "Myopic Friends," "Welcome Home" and the fan-favorite "T-Shirt Weather" to slower, sadder ballads like "A Downside to the Upstairs" and "Friendless Summer." There's also a spunky collaboration with the Ladybug Transistor ("Even Stevens"), a demo of a song from last year's Why That Doesn't Surprise Me album ("The Great Dividing Range") and the atypically spacey "Mars," which has vocals that sound like they were phoned in from the Red Planet itself (lead vocalist/drummer Tali White actually phoned them in from London, the liner notes tell us). All said, Where Were We? is enough to make pop music fans starry-eyed, whether they already know about the wondrous Lucksmiths or they're about to discover them.   --Erasing Clouds
Following in the tradition of 1999's Happy Secret, this is an assortment of recordings made by the Melbourne-based tunesmiths between 1999 and 2001. It includes b-sides, non-album tracks and rarities that have appeared in various hard-to-find compilations. A must for fans, this is an indie-folk collection featuring the kind of pleasant harmonies and wistful lyrics that the band have been expertly crafting since recording their first demo tape in 1993. Highlights include the acoustic sound of "A Downside To The Upstairs." And established favourites such as "T-Shirt Weather", "Even Stevens" and "Friendless Summer." There are also some excellent lyrics on show" "Your loyalty's divided, between digital and vinyl, but I'm still waiting, for the cassingle revival." Production values vary - some tracks are demo standard, while others are obviously works-in-progress. However, the quality of songwriting papers over any flaws. These tracks are unlikely to fill a dancefloor, or earn the band a Mortiis support slot. But fans of Belle & Sebastian should certainly check out the Lucksmiths. This is quite simply some of the best indie music to come from down under since fey favourites Even As We Speak. Quiet truly is the new loud.   --Record Collector Magazine
Like the "Happy Secret" cd from a couple years back, this is a collection of single and compilation tracks the band have released between 1999 and 2001. While all of the songs have been released, they range from the easy to find tracks from the "T-shirt Weather" 7"/cd on Matinée (though for some reason, they've left off their cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Deep Sea Diving Suit") to the difficult to track down demo of "The Great Dividing Range" from a Japanese-only tour sampler cd released on Clover. Actually, I tell a lie; one track has yet to be released: "Welcome Home", which is to be on the next installment of the "The Way Things Change" series of 7"s on Red Square, out very soon. You'll also find their "Cassingle Revival" cassette/7", "Friendless Summer" 7", the tracks from both the "Banter" and "Feast" comp cds on Candle, and even the Lucky Ladybugs (Lucksmiths + Ladybug Transistor) song from the "Indie Aid Abroad" cd on Drive-In. Still, it's very nice to have all of these songs in one place. And don't think that just because these are all compilation or single tracks that they aren't up to the usual Lucksmiths standard of quality; I think the Lucksmiths haven't released a bad song since 1995. Plus, the fold-out sleeve is quite attractive! MTQ=14/14   --IndiePages
If there was ever a competition for "world's most charming indie band", Australia's Lucksmiths would win it hands down. In a live setting, the combination of singer/stand up drummer Tali White, smiling bassist Mark Monnone, and reserved and focused guitarist Marty Donald has been known to melt the hardest of hearts -- the fact that they work for your money, telling countless amusing anecdotes between songs and infusing their swinging pop with more energy than anyone would have a right to expect, is icing on the cake. All that, and they make pretty great records too! Last year's Why That Doesn't Surprise Me found itself on many a critic's year-end top-10 list, and for good reason: it was perhaps the most simultaneously breezy, sunny and intelligent record released last year. While the Lucksmiths tend to receive lots of comparisons to their sort-of-namesakes, The Smiths, Donald and Monnone's songs (all of them sung by White, who only writes a very select few) hardly ever resonate with the kind of miserable self-obsession that the Mozzer forged his career from. The band also receives frequent comparisons to Belle & Sebastian, and while that's a slightly more accurate assessment, the Lucksmiths usually favor much simpler, less pretentious arrangements than their Scottish contemporaries. Instead, The Lucksmiths thrive on witty wordplay (such as "Why don't you let go of your boy and see / You've lost none of your buoyancy"), lazily strummed guitars, and loping, skillful basslines. White's voice is butter-smooth, peppered with his extraordinarily endearing Australian accent. In short, unless you happen to be allergic to witty, well-composed pop music, this is a band that's hard to resist. Like any good indie band, the Lucksmiths have amassed quite a few singles and compilation tracks over the years. Ten of these such were compiled on 1998's Happy Secret, and now the trend continues with Where Were We?, a collection of fourteen of the band's A-sides, B-sides, compilation tracks, and other such ephemera and rarities. As such, it's not only a must for fans of the band (although diehards will probably already own much of this), but an excellent primer for the Lucksmiths newcomer. The disc starts out with a classic slice of Lucksmiths with "The Cassingle Revival". With White crooning lines like "And in the dappled sunshine, underneath the clothesline / I spent this afternoon nostalgic for the morning" Donald's guitar jangling unpretentiously and Monnone's bassline loping along effortlessly, the listener is instantly drawn into the Lucksmiths' infectious brand of indie pop. From there, the disc ranges from the perky, head-bobbing pop of "T-Shirt Weather" and "Can't Believe My Eyes" to more melancholy excursions such as the gorgeous "Tmrw vs. Y'day" and the pensive "Goodness Gracious" ("What a beautiful day for a crushing defeat"). The whole disc through, the Lucksmiths' songs shine with White's endearing vocals, and the band's loose, shimmery take on simple pop tunes. Perhaps my only gripe with this collection is the omission of the band's cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Deep Sea Diving Suit", which would have fit right in with the program. And though newbies might be pointed towards Why That Doesn't Surprise Me as the first place to go for a dose of the Lucksmiths, this, in a pinch, would do just fine. And for those already converted, this is, obviously, a necessity.   --PopMatters
Compilation CDs can be difficult. They can end up like a collection of greatest hits, or just a group of songs with no real purpose or flow. With Where Were We?, however, The Lucksmiths don't fall into any of these traps. In fact they leap over them with the sort of grace and class we've grown to expect from the Melbourne trio. Where Were We? is a collection of The Lucksmiths' finest moment from the past few years. Appearing on b-sides, compilations or in the live arena, these songs provide a good introduction for new fans (Triple J has just started playing old favourite "T-Shirt Weather"), and a reward for loyal fans who lapped up the band's gorgeous studio album of last year. The opener, Cassingle Revival, epitomises The Lucksmiths' sound. Tantilisingly twee, the bass of Mark Monnone, guitar of Marty Donald, and the unmistakable voice of singer and drummer Tali White, amble along with quiet confidence. At the half-way mark T-Shirt Weather prevails. Even more perfect than its predecessors it embodies the arrival of summer. This song will make you smile and tap your foot, it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Can't Believe My Eyes, Downside to the Upstairs and Even Stevens are equally commendable. These songs glisten and shine. From the delightful hum of Southernmost, to the almost Sparklehorsean moments of Mars, Where Were We? never falters.The Lucksmiths reign supreme, they truly are the kings of indie pop and Where Were We? is proof that this is one monarchy we should never vote out.   --Oz Music Project