The Luxembourg Signal - Blue Field (Shelflife Records)
This seven-piece band from Los Angeles is known among dream pop fans for their particularly delicious take on this genre. They also aren’t averse to mixing it up with psych either, as do their friends in Soft Science. The band's lineup of Beth Arzy & Betsy Moyer (vocals), Johnny Joyner (guitars), Brian Espinosa (drums) and Ginny Pitchford (keyboards) has been expanded with the addition of Kelly Davis (guitars) and Daniel Kumiega (bass). The septet worked with engineer Mark Rains on Blue Field, and the results are outstanding. With that housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the music.
I could throw out a bunch of names for comparison, but nothing really comes to mind. Meaning, nothing here is derivative, though it is evocative, drawing in different eras of classic music without borrowing heavily from them. Singers Beth and Betsy meld together seamlessly with their gentle, cool vocals laying perfectly on top of assured guitar signatures with tons of reverb and a massive soundscape. “There’s Nothing Better Than a Well-Made Machine” starts off with a riff that reminds me of classic Roxy Music, and the cool brush of technology with warmer vocals is a nice contrast. It all stays slightly alienated in that synthy 80s way we all remember. “Atomic No. 10” is a tune I am really keen on, with hints of psych in the mix. The sing along melody stays with me long after the song fades away, the mark of a great tune. “Antarctica” is a stunning, minor key masterpiece and I love how the vocals are layered.
“Blue Field” is crying out to be a staple on modern radio stations in a perfect world, but then reality bites hard. A truly sublime pop tune. “Are You Numb?” swells with buzzing synths, metronomic percussion, and a pretty melody. “Fall Feeling” features Bobby Wratten (Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars) on guest vocals, and its simpler construct works well with his introspective vocals. “Laura Palmer” is the first single, and I like its C86 cadence. In my mind, I see shadow figures dipping and weaving on the dance floor as this tune unwinds. Nice! “What You’re Asking For” is atmospheric dream pop of the first order, and has all the earmarks of another hit. Truly stunning work from this California group, and highly recommended by this writer!