Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Review: Jordan Luck raucous and reflective on new album

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The Jordan Luck Band.
The Jordan Luck Band.

THE JORDAN Luck Band has been the live vehicle for the songwriter and voice of the [Dance] Exponents in past years. The assumption might be that it's a covers outfit to recreate Luck's good old days on the pub stages of the nation.

But this 11-track debut by the Luck mob provides proof of two things.

Firstly that when it comes to writing the sort of abundantly hooked tunes and memorable lyrics that made him a terrace singalong favourite, Luck still has it.

Having him do that with some autobiographical touches makes some of these songs feel as reflective as they are infectious.

Secondly, his band, which include refugees from the 90s outfits Dead Flowers and D4 don't sound like a ragtag semi-supergroup, but a grunty guitar pop outfit with an adaptable gearbox and an ability to capture plenty of live energy in the studio, something Luck's former band frequently found difficult over an entire album.

They certainly sound convincing when he's hollering from the viewpoint of a frustrated twentysomething in a dead-end supermarket job in the punk-pop opener Can I Help You?.

That comes nicely bookended by the closing Under the Mercury Moon, with Luck at his classic rock bogan-est above its power-chords on a song that should prove a handy audition piece should that AC/DC frontman job ever come up again, and which New Year's Eve publicans will come to love for its keg-emptying capabilities.

In between is a bit more finesse. Actually there's a song called Finesse, an ode which starts out in Southland ("Ella Fitzgerald on Foveaux Radio ...") that mixes Exponents chug with Blur-ish keyboards, and there's more southern scenic highlights on Sailing with the Sailors on A Sunken Ship, an odd mix of jaunty tune and gothic lyric on the shores of Tekapo; and the fuzzpop explosion of Kiwiana that is Edens of Suburbia.

Elsewhere, Luck's Lennonesque voice gets an aptly Beatle framing on the See You Next Wednesday and there's a Kinks-ish tale of divorce on Only If You're Lonely.

There are a couple of lesser numbers -- Crystal Soul with its very Red Hot Chili Peppers intro and the shaggy dog tale of Robbyn Banks which at least gets Blenheim a mention on this album's Mainland roadmap.

The quietest song is saved to second last - Stevie, a lament for Luck's early Dance Exponents bandmate Steve Cowan which lyrically makes references to early hits Victoria and Can't Kiss the Lips of a Memory without turning mawkish.

It's a sad sweet touch on an album that can feel a little out of time. No, it's not a case of local rock veteran trying to recapture past glories. It's just that its rollicking energy sounds more like the stuff of summer than autumn. Impressive.

JORDAN LUCK BAND

Not Only ... But Also

(JLBKMB)

Verdict: Fine post-Exponents outing by frontman and gang


The Jordan Luck Band perform at the Kings Arms on Saturday.

- NZ Herald

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