[sic] Magazine

The Luyas – Too Beautiful To Work

Just as the ultimately inconsequential instrumentals of Belle Orchestre were product of Arcade Fire ‘s past-and-present ranks, so too is Too Beautiful To Work, the second offering by Montréalais five-piece The Luyas . And it just so happens that the same pie-fingered duo are responsible for both.

Multi-instrumentalist/horn specialist Pietro Amato and violinist Sarah Neufeld aren’t short of a few friends of their own either it turns out. Jessie Stein , equally of underrated dream-pop outfit Miracle Fortress , resumes vocal duty here, and whilst, with respect, Mathieu Charbonneau and Stefan Schneider aren’t household names, the services of string-arranger of choice Owen Pallett ( Final Fantasy ) are a bit of a coup, as are the collective efforts of the nearly full orchestral accompaniment.

Add this to the inclusion of Stein’s custom Moodswinger (a twelve-string, electric sound box that encompasses an experimental third bridge that causes “an overtone multiphonic sound”), as well as live performances that incorporate sculpture and a “fictional ecosystem” and Too Beautiful To Work ought to justify a spin or two to all but the most staunchly nuclear of listeners.

And, in places, it does. The title track is lively in its electronic repeats and swishes of violin, sounding at once chilly and warm, at once contemporary and as “timeless” as the one sheet would have you believe. The melancholic “Canary” is chased around the stage with menacing swellings of strings, and the sweet, near-spoken delivery of “Spherical Mattress” lands it very much in line with the dreamy work of The Concretes , a realisation that, in retrospect, frames much of Too Beautiful To Work in Nordic indie-pop, if it weren’t so frequently undercut with symphonic pomp that is.

However, avant-garde, nervous constructs like “Worth Mentioning” amount to anything but, no matter how closely they come to beguiling instead. The soft-focus psych-pop of “Tiny Head” is also unlikely to inspire devotion, despite latterly careering off into calculated cacophony – a pattern the album’s weaker closers perhaps should have followed.

It’s not beauty that prevents The Luyas from succeeding throughout – it’s the more commonplace excuse of consistency. Amato and Neufeld already have a classic album under their belts, albeit not one as The Luyas, so can be forgiven for now merely wheeling out a credible one. Owen Pallett however is bound to work on a classic album at some point in the future; he’s just too much of a talent not to, but once again he won’t be found cracking out the cigars to this one.

Advised downloads: “Too Beautiful To Work” and “Spherical Mattress”.

~Too Beautiful To Work is released 21st February 2011 in the UK on Dead Oceans .~