Australia's the Sleepy Jackson is the project of one Luke Steele and his revolving door of musicians, who reportedly keep leaving due to the songwriter's rigidity. But it's a good thing Steele is so stubborn, because the band's debut, Lovers, is, thanks to its creator's eccentric pastiche of styles, a kind of perfect indie pop, tuned specifically to the ups and downs of a love affair itself.
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While Steele obviously has myriad musical influences, his real achievement is that he manages to include almost every one of them in each song and make it work. From George Harrison-esque slide guitars ("Good Dancers") to the psychedelic leanings of Mercury Rev ("Acid In My Heart"), from the dark brooding of the Velvet Underground ("Rain Falls For Wind") to the alt country of Gram Parsons ("Old Dirt Farmer"), Steele has it all. He is one of the few people able to make a proper tune out of a bouquet of well-placed and melodic "nah-nah-nahs," as on "This Day" and "Tell the Girls That I'm Not Hanging Out"; on "Old Dirt Farmer" he "doo-doo-doos" all over the place, and that makes more sense than anything he could have put into conventional words. When he does choose to lyricize, it's sentiments such as "Don't always dream for what you want/ But I love to watch good dancers talk," from "Good Dancers" or, "If I were a girl I would wear a miniskirt into town," from "Miniskirt," lines that show Steele's cryptic but humorous side.
Strangeness of phrasing aside, though, the mood-changes on Lovers evoke the feelings associated with the variable stages of a romance. The exuberant moments on "This Day" and the falsetto "Rain Falls for Wind" signify the start, while the tender chirps of "Morning Bird" and the delicate "Mourning Rain" indicate the happy middle, and the angry thumps of "Vampire Racecourse" and bluesy laments of "Don't You Know" mark the end. But the album's not sappy: Steele's deft combination of aesthetics transforms the pop of Lovers into more than just a rush of blood to the head.
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