Review Summary: The missing link between the Sixties melody rock and bands like XTC brought to today.
These days, melodic pop/rock, power pop, or whatever term is in vogue now, seems to have become a territory inhabited by bands and artists that have more or less become veterans, like Ireland’s Pugwash or Canada’s Sloan or by young, aspiring bands like The Lemon Twigs with a lot of talent, trying to make their mark.
But what about those that you can say are somewhere ‘in the middle’ as far as their age and careers are in question, having up all the right chops and melodic twists and turns to come up with some interesting music and covering that ground between sheer talent and complete command of the genre?
That would not be an easy job, but Brooklyn trio Populuxe might fill that gap all by themselves. After three previous albums and an EP (mini-opera, no less), Lumiere, their fourth puts them in full command of their musical capabilities, coming up with eight slices of superb to almost brilliant slices of pop/rock that covers the ground from everybody that ever heard The Beatles and picked up an instrument, through all the variations from there on.
Not that as American ‘kids’, main man Rob Shapiro and Mark Party (drums) and Mike Mallory (bass), have only picked up The Beatles from across the Atlantic as their cues - Seventies greats like Bowie (the opener “Lady Liberty”), or Eighties/Nineties stellar melodists XTC (“Garage Sale”, “Schoolyard”) are all there, among others. They did not neglect American acts like The Big Star (the rollercoaster of, “Blackout”) or Todd Rundgren in his less prog mode (“Behind Enemy Lines”).
Still, you can go on picking the influences as much as you want, but as with their choice of the band’s name, taken from the term for a consumer culture and aesthetic in the US in Fifties and Sixties but also signalling their intention for making luxe pop, they show sheer intelligence and ability to make all the sounds that inspired them their own and escaping all the traps of being simple copycats.
Lumiere turns out to actually be a slice of luxe pop, coming up with all the elements that deserve such a description.