The Lucksmiths

Cartography for Beginners: A Best of the Lucksmiths

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Over the course of their 16-year career as indie pop whiz kids, the Australian group known as the Lucksmiths crafted loads and loads of intelligent, melodic, and genuinely affecting records. Spread over a myriad of labels and encompassing every format one can imagine, from singles to albums to many compilation tracks, the lads started off with a sparse, acoustic guitar-led sound that fit singing drummer Tali White's simple and direct, emotionally bare vocals perfectly. As a listen to the double-disc career-encompassing Cartography for Beginners: A Best of the Lucksmiths shows, the Lucksmiths changed a bit over the years, trading acoustic guitars for electric, getting more ambitious with their arrangements, but they never lost the core of earnest emotion and catchy pop sweetness that they started with. Most of the first disc, which is devoted to releases from 1993 to 2000, features their stripped-down sound and contains some early highlights like "T-Shirt Weather" and "Shine on Me" that show off the gently rocking side of the band on the former, the sweet and tender ballads on the latter. Disc two covers 2001 to 2009 and shows the band growing and expanding its sound, with songs like "The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco" and "Midweek Midmorning" giving Belle and Sebastian a run for their money in both the jangle and the lyrical brilliance sweepstakes. The truly lovely "The Great Dividing Range," which is kitted out with piano and strings, is here too, and it's the one song that truly elevated the Lucksmiths into the upper echelon of indie pop bands of their era. Listening to both discs is a nice reminder of just how special the Lucksmiths were, and the high quality of the tracks they were making when they split is a reminder of just how much they are missed. Whether you've been a fan from the start or you are just getting your feet wet, you need this well-chosen collection. The songs are wonderful, the performances delightful, and overall, it delivers indie pop at its very best.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:32
2 3:21
3 2:34
4 2:14
5 3:04
6 2:17
7 2:37
8 3:07
9 2:53
10 3:24
11 3:10
12 4:01
13 2:58
14 2:21
15 2:39
16 3:36
17 3:19
18 2:44

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:58
2 3:19
3 2:04
4 4:02
5 3:38
6 3:26
7 3:07
8 3:57
9 3:14
10 2:50
11 4:31
12 3:24
13 4:42
14 4:08
15 4:56
16 3:54
17 2:39
blue highlight denotes track pick