erasing clouds

The Lucksmiths, Spring a Leak

reviewed by dave heaton

The Lucksmiths’ first two singles-and-rarities collections, Happy Secret and Where Were We?, are single-disc affairs compact and consistent enough that new fans might mistake them for proper albums. Each succinctly displays the Australian band’s smart, funny, sensitive and (perhaps most important) impeccably well-crafted pop songwriting: what has made them absolute musical legends to fans like me.

The new two-disc Spring a Leak does not have the same compact approach as the first two, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. This time the release is more of a catch-all in some ways, with 45 tracks – including not just B-sides , compilation tracks, remixes and scarcely released covers, but also a mighty handful of radio-show performances of tracks from their albums. Nearly all of them are fantastic (the others still at least fun and/or interesting), making this a veritable library of Lucksmiths recordings that fans will go berserk over (or quietly fall in love with, depending on your personality).

Even fans will likely find great songs they have forgotten about - I was struck by that right from the start, with their snappy/sweet cover of the Siddeleys’ “Falling Off of My Feet Again”, with nice horns on the outro (it’s from the Matinee 50 comp – only 4 years ago, but alas my memory skills are fading). Recent EP b-sides are here, like “To Absent Votes”, capturing the soon-lost hope of an election night, and the beer-drenched bittersweet singalong “Requiem for the Punters Club.” And older 7” tracks, too, like the entire “Macintyre” 7” from 1995 (I like the title track, with its line “I’m not happy but I’m near enough”) and the entire “The Invention of Ordinary Everday Things” 7” from 1997 – both impossible to find.

One of my favorite remixes, by anyone of anyone, is here: the Pipas remix of “How to Tie a Tie”, with handclaps and new “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba” backing vocals, and everything else you’d want in a remix (the original song’s strengths, for example). There’s also previously unreleased covers of the Simpletons, the Sugargliders, the Ladybug Transistor and the Cat’s Miaow, plus great released ones, like the Modern Lovers’ “Dignified and Old”, Boyracer’s “I’ve Got It (And It’s Not Worth Having)” and the Magnetic Fields’ “Deep Sea Diving Suit.” The radio recordings include beautiful versions of Why That Doesn’t Surprise Me tracks “The Year of Driving Languorously”, “Broken Bones” and “Synchronised Sinking”. Plus recordings of the band playing “Punchlines” and “Off With His Cardigan!” on Australian TV (who knew?) back in 1998.

And there’s of course a ton of memorable songs that I haven’t mentioned, since there’s nothing more tedious than a writer going through every single track on a CD and describing it, when you could just go out and hear the damn thing yourself, and be much happier for it.


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