Luluc “Sculptor” (Sub Pop, 2018)

Here we have an ethereal, indie-folksy offering from the legendary Sub Pop label. Australians Zoe Randall and Steve Hassett (now Brooklyners) have a host of Grade A fans and collaborators (Sleater Kinny, The National, J Mascis) to call on. This is Luluc’s third album and it’s beautifully downbeat, or perhaps a downbeat beauty. Instrumentation is minimal and fractured throughout.

Opening track ‘Spring’ is breathy and choral, with a touch of Arthur Lee amongst the flora and fauna emerging from Zoe Randall’s plaintive voice. Heavy drumming is mixed low, which reinforces the dreamy feel. ‘Kids’ is more sparsely arranged (guitar, synth, percussion) yet bolder in its message – a desire to escape from small mindedness and small town mentalities. ‘Controversy’ continues in a similar vein, decrying the mediocrity of suburban non-existence. ‘Cambridge’ is close to a love song, an affirmation of the myriad of life possibilities “open to me and you.”

Me and Jasper’ features a distant, echo swamped guitar break by J.Mascis behind a harmony duet between Randall and herself. It’s almost cheery. Almost. An affirmation for leading life the way you want to (as, we gather by now is the stated overall theme of the record). ‘Moon Girl’ is beautifully finger-picked and lovingly sung, perhaps dedicated to Randall’s younger self. Underscored by floating strings and synth sounds, it’s a strong track.

Closing, titular track ‘Sculptor’ is quite ominous in tone but ultimately resolves into a major chord ‘cheery ending’ as Randall takes pride and pleasure in the life she has sculpted for herself.

8/10

Summary

Charming, ethereal, folksy. Deconstructed pop. Night-time listening.

Author: Mark Nenadic

Quite likes music. Doesn't really like people. From The North. Exiled in The Midlands due to radical views on whippets/flat caps. Beards and plaid shirts belong on Willie Nelson. Everybody else should smarten up a bit ..

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