In the press release for Vindication Blues, the New Zealand band Luckless’ sound is described as "elusive as smoke but as enveloping as fog." Naturalist imagery seems to surround Luckless, from their press to their lyrics. Vindication Blues, the band's fourth LP, is the sound of the natural world coming through the artificial overlay of society. Raw, heartfelt, primal emotions crack through false politeness, like flowers cracking through concrete, revealing something real and powerful amidst the desolation of superficiality.
Luckless started off as a solo venture for lead singer Ivy Rossiter who is very much the main attraction. She's been compared to PJ Harvey, and the comparison is apt. Rossiter can be as smooth and sailing as silk, then rapidly shift into a gravel mudslide. These seismic shifts are beautifully accompanied by her guitar playing, with tasteful and effective repetitive riffs, sturdy as cedar, all set to the mechanistic foundation of Logan Compain's powerful drumming. Their music has also been described as "poised somewhere between the ethereal haze of indie folk and the propulsion of alt-rock," and then goes on to name check some more recent inspirations like Warpaint.
Vindication Blues is very in line with a certain strand of doom-inflected, raucous gothic country records, from bands like Chelsea Wolfe, Wye Oak, Marissa Nadler and Sharon Van Etten. Basically, what all of these records have in common is a devotion to roots music and classic rock 'n roll, which are then captured in luscious fidelity. There is no mistaking this for a record made in 1968. In 2014, we've got the art of capturing bass frequencies down to a science. The bottom end of Vindication Blues is rich, powerful, full and thunderous and throttling. In an act of masterful mastery, the high-end is just as sparkling, making for a wide-screen listening experience that is edging on a masterpiece - a timeless classic for people who like smart, guitar-centric indie rock with flickers of experimentation.
About my only criticism is this record can be a bit too thunderous at times. It can become a bit shrill after multiple visitations, like on "When You Asked Her To Stay.” It's a minor moment and just shows how much of an alchemical science mastering is (which is handled, in this case, by Angus McNaughton). It's still one of the best-produced records I've heard this year and if the deities are just will catapult Luckless into the big time.
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