Montreal indie-rock four piece The Luyas bolster the already impressive roster of Canadian musicians releasing albums this year with their third LP titled Animator. Famed for involving odd instruments in their compositions (most notably a Moodswinger), the group continue with their trademark sound, focusing their evolution on lyrics and content, spurred by the death of a close friend of the band. The departure of drummer Stefan Schneider (replaced by Mark “Bucky” Wheaton earlier this year) also makes a mark on the record, with the percussion aspects of the music far more prevalent and less subdued than in their previous work.
Lead single ‘Fifty Fifty’ is a jerky scrabbling of noises, part electronica part indie-rock with muddled lines of surf guitar, juddering snare and lead vocalist Jessie Stein’s familiar ethereal tones. It’s got heaps of darkness, Bond strings and an Asobi Seksu kind of shoegaze feel which makes the track seem full. ‘The Quiet Way’ adds a goth-folk twang to the record, something earthy and honest, but with sinister undertones and a whirring dread. There’s a Machiavellian beauty in the thousand unidentifiable instruments which complements the tone of the record – they may be coping with grief and loss, but there’s still a twinkle in their eyes which keeps them on their feet.
With this maturation, The Luyas find themselves in the ranks of many other Canadian bands and artists currently prominent, including Grimes, Feist, Japandroids. In the same way Scandinavia has its own distinct sound, Canada is beginning to show signs of an intelligent, unique kind of indie with features such as aloofosity, depthivation and awesomitude at the forefront. The Luyas have this sound to a T, showcasing inspiring sounds and talented musicianship which genuinely pushes boundaries.
‘Earth Turner’ stomps onto the scene, with tribal drums and effervescent strings and Stein’s idiosyncratic vocal stylings punctuating the ritualistic rhythms. It’s wild and raw with hulking melodies which eventually degenerate into a flailing mess of space blaster shots and trembling, atmospheric synths, before finally settling into an unsettling slightly-out-of-tune organ passage. ‘Crimes Machine’ is basically just reversed samples, zipping backwards out of the speakers, gearing up to the finalé of ‘Channeling’. Lullaby drops of synthesizer and muffled drum machines (and whale song?) flow into this wondrous river of deeply moving, serene music, building so incredibly slowly you barely notice it. As the pitter-patter of tuned percussion accelerates, the voices drop, synths fall out and all that’s left is the skeleton of the track.
This is an introspective album, dotted with often poignant lyrics and moments of Mariana Trench depth. There’s a meaty carcass of juicy sounds upon which to feast, provided by one of the most avant-garde indie groups to surface the other side of the pond. Rarely do bands achieve such varied instrumentation with such effect, without coming across as pompous fools; The Luyas do so effortlessly, melding wacky aural delights with their homespun melodies and rich (though sometimes undecipherable) lyrics. With Animator, the band explore new territory with their foray into extremely personal matters and again demonstrate their innate talent.