Saturday, September 13, 2003

ALBUM RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK (according to my clock, I still have 2 hours left of it):

The Sleepy Jackson

Jeff Lynne never got no respect. Which is almost criminal. Because he had a pop ear that could find the elusive hokey-hook and make that cheese into fromage. His band, Electric Light Orchestra, in retrospect, was the average-income man’s Beatles, creating pleasing music that both Daddy-o’s and kids could enjoy. But the only caveat was that no one would admit to being fans. After all, ELO was the band to score the whole Xanadu soundtrack sans irony (even with Olivia Newton John on occasional vocals!).

Luke Steele, on the other hand, wears his ELO vintage T-shirt proudly on his ELO vintage T-shirt sleeve. The lead singer and songwriter behind the Sleepy Jackson is so obsessed with the Lynne™ sound that he even ventures boldly into disco-like balladry ("Tell The Girls That I’m Not Hangin Out") adding a flashy synth track under a chorus of "na na na’s." It’s an incredibly effective dance song, so retro in its roots that it completely avoids the new-wave bandwagon so many have rode into their major labels on. Elsewhere on songs like "Acid in My Heart" and "Miniskirt," he out-noodles a tuna casserole, adding a bit of country flavor to his sweet introspection, just like Lynne did with the Travelling Wilburys

And while critics have assigned many other influences to essentially Steele’s music (he’s reportedly a perfectionist, changing the line-up of his band over seven times), the Lynne comparison holds strong throughout Lovers. Because like that genius’ back catalogue (yes—genius), Lovers’ goes from tune to tune experimenting with format but never losing its consistency. It’s a record that feels like a grand whole idea. An illuminating idea that grants us with 100,000 watts of pop. The kind of brilliant voltage that could even ignite a whole light orchestra. Specifically, of course, an electric one.


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