This has probably been true for about 10 years now. There have been flirtations with the Dave Matthews Band, the Pat Metheny Group, and a few others, but when I really need to smile, there is nothing so reliably charming as the simple melodies and unassumingly delightful lyrics of the Melbourne pop group.
Time spent away from Australia can make otherwise banal Australian pop songs take on disproportionate emotional attachment, and I was no exception. But more than Flame Trees or Redgum, the music that most captured my nostalgic nationalism while overseas were Lucksmiths lyrics:
It's getting worse
You've hardly said a word
Since you set eyes on the horizon
But I've seen the other side of that ocean there
And it can't compare
and, sung with the same Australian accent, genuine and yet untouched by the Ocker-ism too prevalent in Australia country music:
I spent the summer with the curtains drawn against it
Counting all the nights you’ve wasted
Under unfamiliar stars
Are you ever coming home?
Or should I learn to do without you?
Thus it was with some excitement that I realised this week that the 'smiths were headed north, playing at the Jugglers' on Saturday night. I was joined there by known afficionados Matt and Marty, and curious and as it happened skeptical newcomer Andy.
The support band, the Bell Divers, were the same genre, but reminded me why I am not a generalist indy pop fan. Its hard to criticize them for being a new band, but the lack of clarity and assurance in their performance made it impossible to tell if their writing was the reason they were opening for the Lucksmiths.
The only previous time I had seen the Lucksmiths, they were essentially a trio. Their subsequent addition of a fourth member has changed the nature of their songs a little, if anything making them a little less twee and more popularly palatable. Certainly, as a live gig, they have a more dynamic presence, and "rock" more, than they did before adding Louis Richter.
What has not changed, though, is the quality of their writing. Their songs are pleasant, if simple, and serve their purpose well. Their lyrics, though, are quite probably the best I've come across in music, rivalled only perhaps by Bob Dylan (the comparison is unworthy, since the aims are not the same). I've probably posted this before, but so genuine was the grin that spread across my face when the set rolled around to what might be my favourite Lucksmiths wordsmithery...
Though you kept me guessing and your distance
Were it not for my persistence
We would never have been lovers
You kept your distance and me guessing
Finally acquiescing only after I’d discovered
You kept the things I sent you
The lengths I went to
Or it might not be. There are so many to choose from.
How this band can come to Brisbane and play to an audience of 40 people in a pleasant but, it must be said, very small venue, just defies my understanding. I might never see a better show with fewer people.