£9.99 – £19.99
Luluc – Sculptor. Released via Sub Pop on Indies Only Coloured Vinyl LP, CD.
‘Me and Jasper’, from Luluc’s third album ‘Sculptor’, is a confident challenge to smalltown insularity, lilting yet vigilant and championed by a defiant guitar solo from the band’s friend J Mascis. It’s a reflection on a common pitfall of adolescence: limitless possibility battling constant obstruction. “My own experiences as a teen were often fraught,” says songwriter and vocalist Zoe Randell. “The small town I grew up in provided a great study in gossip, scandal, character assassination, and the willingness of people to go along with it.” It’s a song about fighting for agency on an album that is in many ways about volition, potential and how people can navigate difficulties and opportunities to create different paths.
‘Sculptor’ can be consumed loud, because while Luluc’s music is at times masterful in its minimalism, it is anything but quiet in impact. There’s a turning point people experience when hearing Luluc. Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney says “it’s music that, once you hear it, you can’t live without it.” The National’s Matt Berninger said that for months, ‘Passerby’ was “the only album I wanted to listen to.”
“What first hits is that voice,” writes Peter Blackstock (No Depression), “a peaceful serenity that reaches deep into the heart.” When NPR’s Bob Boilen named 2014’s ‘Passerby’ his album of the year, he wrote: “I’ve listened to this record by Australia’s Luluc more than any other this year. These songs feel like they’ve always been.” Legendary producer Joe Boyd, responsible for discovering Nick Drake, told BBC radio he exclaimed “Who the hell is this?!” when he first heard Luluc’s debut, ‘Dear Hamlyn’.
That gripping quality pulses through ‘Sculptor’. Randell writes with more experimentation and possibility. “Broadly speaking, with these new songs I was interested in the difficulties that life can throw at us – what we can do with them, how they can shape us, and what say we have,” she explains. Sonically, the band have broadened their palette. Multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Steve Hassett mastered a spectrum of instruments to fully realize the album’s expansive and daring vision. Randell and Hassett did nearly all of the writing, recording and producing themselves but their vision is far from insular. In addition to Mascis, ‘Sculptor’ features contributions from Aaron Dessner (The National and producer of ‘Passerby’), Jim White of Dirty Three, Matt Eccles and Dave Nelson. Recording took place in Luluc’s new Brooklyn studio, which they built themselves.
That everyone has control of their own story is at the core of ‘Sculptor’. For Hassett, it’s illuminated by the last line of the album: “The most beautiful, serene sculpture my hands could make, could trace, could break.” “All of the songs are playing with those ideas,” he says. “Life is something you get, and you can get sidetracked for years and even destroy it, or you can remember that you’ve got some control over
your life.” But listeners of ‘Sculptor’ may yield some of that control, even if for a short time, to the mastery of the music itself.
Vinyl format includes digital download code.
Tracklisting: Luluc – Sculptor
1. Spring – Have a Listen
6. Me and Jasper
8. Moon Girl
9. Needn’t Be