By Garrett Strickler
Released: July 15, 2914
Label: Sub Pop
Luluc is a duo from Melbourne, Australia who make soft-spoken indie rock that fits Brian Eno’s definition of ambient music (as ignorable as it is interesting) to a T.
Albums which are content to exist in the background without calling for attention can garner both adoration and disdain from listeners, and the line separating the two can be quite thin. With “Passerby,” Luluc’s greatest achievement is creating a soothing, hospitable environment capable of withstanding, and even inviting, endless repeated listens. The songs are simple but not repetitive, and soft but not passive.
The influences on the album run deep and can almost be traced lineally. From Joni Mitchell’s haunting, unpredictable vocal melodies, to Belle & Sebastian’s moody and reflective acoustic strumming and at times showing flashes of Cat Power’s knack for disguising rock ‘n’ roll as coffee shop background noise.
Luluc doesn’t provide the lyrical depth or dexterity of these influences, but what the songs lack in weight they make up for in solace. Each song provides a variation on the central theme of musical intimacy. There are virtually no moments that cause any sort of interruption; each verse, chorus and song flow together almost imperceptibly. And while this type of progression can rub some listeners who look for more excitement and fervor the wrong way, “Passerby” is able to avoid any disparagement of being too simple or too easy by consistently providing intricate and compelling arrangements.
Listening to the record is, as the title suggests, like visiting the small, cozy town where you stay overnight on a long road trip. Even though everything closes at 7 p.m. and even though the groceries are a little overpriced, it’s ok. The people are warm, the buildings are old and the coffee in the diner is strong. Even if you’re only staying there for the night, it feels just like home, and maybe you’re not in such a rush to get somewhere else anymore.