Too Beautiful To Work, Experimental Pop From The Luyas

The new album is a very cool exploration of modern pop

By , Columnist

Quirky is cool. At one time, Talking Heads came off as art-house quirky and look where it got them: in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that's where. My quirk of the moment happens to be a Montreal band oddly called The Luyas.

The Luyas are a relatively unknown indie band that seems to be more indie-oriented for the sake of making personally satisfying music than for a concentrated effort to find a musical niche. Did I say niche? Sorry about that. The Luyas, should they find a niche, will certainly own it all by themselves.

This band of four, fronted by engaging singer/guitarist Jessie Stein, explores musical experimentation to the next level. By that, I mean that they don't just create songs normally, they layer them heavily with so many things that no song comes in like the one before, or the one after. And yet, their collection of tunes have an interesting way of hanging around after you've heard them. One listen to their latest album, Too Beautiful To Work, will have you scurrying to YouTube to check out their videos, which you should do because they're immensely interesting.

The band formed in 2006 with their not to be ignored debut album, Faker Death, arriving shortly thereafter. Faker Death is easily more accessible than their latest because of its closer to the norm content. That's not to say that it bears no resemblance to Too Beautiful To Work. It is just to say that the band started off their existence with an album not too far from the beaten path even as it lays important groundwork to what you'll hear on subsequent offerings.

Released in early 2011, the followup to Faker Death is a sonic canvas with so many color thrown in that the result becomes a beautifully blended work of art. As such, Too Beautiful To Work becomes something that is individually enjoyed with no interpretation the same, which is just as well: music like this wants to be challenging.

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Too Beautiful To Work opens with the title track, a song that is part Laurie Anderson in nature. With its playfulness and eccentricity a vital essence to its makeup, “Too Beautiful To Work” sets the album's tone from the beginning.

What comes after are songs that intrigue with their eeriness (“Tiny Head”), their beauty (“Canary”), and their ability to transcend normal pop style with “push the envelope” experimentation.

Often, the songs are infused with traditional instrumentation, mixing them with strange instruments like the zither. In this case, the zither used is a 12-string Moodswinger. (Don't ask because I don't know. But it sure sounds cool.) I love “What Mercy Is” with its wind-chime-like wall of sound, and Jessie Stein's shoegazer vocals.

Of course, not everyone is going to like The Luyas. But I've a feeling that they wouldn't care. Too Beautiful To Work is best explored personally. Then, by all means, pass them on to your friends. After all, you've discovered something rather cool.


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Matt Rowe began his life with an AM radio, listening to anything that was considered music. Since, he has labored intently to build a collection of music, paring it down, rebuilding, and refining as he sees fit. His decided goal is to keep up with new music by panning for the nuggets among literal mountains…

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