>>> The Luyas return after four years with just five songs

And yet the meditative Says You feels substantial


The Luyas have been lying low since finishing the touring cycle for 2012’s acclaimed Animator album. Though they’ve returned with just five songs, Says You feels substantial. 

Like their Montreal peers Suuns, the avant-pop five-piece fronted by Jessie Stein (and now with Michael Feuerstack in the fold) use their instruments to create mood as much as melody, building highly textured songs through mountains of synths, plus an effects-filtered French horn, guitars and drums. They’re less groove-oriented than Suuns or, say, Stereolab, though Stein’s breathy, plaintive vocals floating atop a tangle of textures sometimes bring Laetitia Sadier’s to mind, like on standout track Bucky’s (2 Hours) Late.

There’s a buoyant lightness at work, as if the band used their downtime to clear out the cobwebs, realign themselves and start anew. On the title track, Stein sings, “One guy says that I look French / he means it as a compliment,” and then sings something in French. Her lyrics are crystal-clear throughout but come across as passing phrases or observations captured for a moment and then released. No evident themes are at work, though there’s an existential bent to the song titles.

Written and recorded through improvisation, each song seems to lift and expand upwards, slowly but continuously, never sounding over-thought. Take God Is Pink, which is like a balloon ascending into the sky from a loosely tethered string. You can feel a sense of space all around it as a distant snare-drum-like beat hits methodically, synths gurgle and burble and Stein’s high, light voice fills in the foreground. She adds more of a warble to her delivery in final song If It Exists, which brings Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs to mind, and on which she sings, “A song is just a song.” 

Though brief, the EP offers something so meditative as to verge on holy.

Top track: Bucky’s (2 Hours) Late

The Luyas play Double Double Land on Friday (September 16). See listing.

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