NEW ZEALAND’S INDEPENDENT scene remains as buoyant as ever with startlingly illuminating bands emerging all the time. But you would hardly know it given the mainstream coverage of a small group of artists. Porky has given immense coverage over the past five years to Kiwi bands of all flavours and two new releases give us more seed to plant.
Luckless have been doing something that’s almost a novelty these days: they’ve spent the past two years touring. Everywhere. Strangely, they’ve relocated from Auckland to the quake-ravaged port town of Lyttelton, a move that has if anything provided some inspiration for their second album, Vindication Blues. “I watch the lights on the harbour as they dance into my glass/ And as the concrete crumbles I’m stealing landscapes from the past.”
Luckless are the vehicle for the songwriter Ivy Rossiter who already, whether she likes it or not, has drawn comparisons with Anna Calvi and PJ Harvey. The music is dark, but you might expect that from such an album title. Rossiter’s writing is lucid, intense and poetical; the songs veer from campside ballads to rousing ballbreakers, notably Better Than Being Blue for the former, Road Retreats for the later. Dry Eyes is, inevitably, the song that is most likely to tease out those tired analogies to PJ Harvey but it’s tenuous and otherwise the band’s influences are multifarious.
At times this is an uneasy listen, but one that is enthralling and gripping.
It’s grimy electro-indie with commitment. Post-punk references abound, Gary Numan is notable, as is Ultravox, the pre-Midge Ure late 70s version that is. They veer from energetic synth-killers on Persuasion, to strangling the cat on Ambivalence. Emotions is certainly varied and complex, just like people.
It’s worth listing all the emotions they cover: Expectations/ Amnesia/ Evasion/ Disdain/ Stimulation/ Euphoria/ Dystopia/ Ambivalence/ Persuasion/ Infatuation/ Trepidation/ Acquiescence.