by Jack Diablo
Album Review: The Luyas – Too Beautiful to Work (CD/LP)
Label: Dead Oceans
Release Date: February 22, 2011
The Luyas are Canada’s latest export of inventive, talented and ambitious song-makers who make it a point to challenge the status quo and redefine what it means to play pop music in this modern age. For their second album, Too Beautiful to Work, they have pulled out all the stops and let their creativity run wild. With Jeff McMurrich pulling recording duties and backed by the wonderful Dead Oceans label, they are set to make a huge splash in 2011.
With a host of A-list musician friends lending their talents to the album, Too Beautiful to Work boasts an impressive instrumentation and arrangement. Owen Pallett and Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld contribute violin and assorted strings, Colin Stetson (also a touring member of Arcade Fire) provides the winds in the form of saxophone and clarinet along with Lisa Chisolm on bassoon. There’s also Attack in Black’s Daniel Tavis Romano, who breaks from designing concert posters to play bass along with others handling everything from cello to flute.
On top of it all is the Moodswinger, an experimental instrument stringed zither that creates a multi-phonic overtone via a third bridge that yada yada yada, Ok. I have no idea how it works but it sounds cool enough. At its helm is singer Jessie Stein whose voice resonates with a childlike innocence alongside regular bandmates Mathieu Charbonneau, Pietro Amatro and Stefan Schneider who man the usual keys, guitar and drums with the unexpected addition of French horn.
Looking back over the cast of instruments the Luyas and friends employ makes for a rather unexpected result- a strange but effective and enjoyable mix of the nostalgic and the futuristic. It’s an ethereal, atmospheric brand of pop that comes with a specific vision accompanying its unique expression. Live performances have been known to turn into absurd spectacles that stimulate the imagination and push the envelope.