If the Grammys were any indication of public awareness of the Canadian musical talent pool, it would likely come as a shock to most to discover that Canadians have been turning out great independent music for some time now. In the ’70s and ’80s, Toronto housed a stellar hardcore scene, which is still very much alive today, in the ’90s, the Halifax scene was Canada’s answer to Seattle and in the new millennium, “Album of the Year” award winners Arcade Fire have put Montreal on the map as the new Mecca of indie rock. Even today’s cut-and-copy TigerBeat pop stars are Canadian. Ahem.
The Luyas are just another top-notch Montreal act, slowly carving out their own path in the city’s indie scene. The band’s first LP, Faker Death, hardly left any impact due to record company bankruptcies and numerous re-releases. But those who were lucky enough to have Faker grace their turntables already know of the sincerity and innocence harvested by this Montreal quartet. With follow-up Too Beautiful To Work, however, the Luyas aligned with a more high profile label in Dead Oceans, allowing newcomers better accessibility to their powerful indie rock sound.
Fronted by former SS Cardiac member Jessie Stein, The Luyas allow her the first introduction, her sweet and innocent vocals the first to catch the ear. When the Luyas introduce their abundantly layered synth as heard on “Worth Mentioning,” everything begins to work quite beautifully, the elegant combo proving to be something special. “Tiny Head” is a four-minute breeze of subtle effects, while tracks such as “Canary” and “What Mercy Is” remain soft builders.
“Cold Canada” is the most upbeat track on the album displaying sharp drum work from Stefan Schneider. “Snow will always win,” Stein sings softly reminding all Canadian listeners of the childlike and fun, yet sometimes oppressive climate often associated with winter. Sure it’s long, but bundling up, grabbing a toboggan and a flask just doesn’t have the same cozy charm in the scorching summer sun.
The band is working their way toward being in the same company as bands as the Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, and fellow Montreal chamber-popsters Bell Orchestre. Key members of the band, like Stein, have enough songwriting material under their belts to know what works. While Too Beautiful To Work isn’t a monumental jump in progression, the band remains close to their roots and urban inspirations to put forth a solid follow-up which should have any listener pleasantly reacquainted.