The Lucksmiths

The Green Bicycle Case

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With First Tape and Boondoggle under their belts, the Lucksmiths approached their first real album, per se, with well-deserved confidence and came up trumps. Named after a notorious murder from some 100 years previous, The Green Bicycle Case again showcases the band's virtue for getting things done without wasting time -- 12 songs in just over half an hour, nearly all of them winners. The recording quality isn't all that different from Boondoggle and neither is the general presentation -- the minimal arrangements give all that's needed song for song, while the extra touches (mandolin here, bodhran there) add a bit of flair without distracting from the songs themselves. White's performances seem to get better and better on each album -- his lead turn on "Motorscooter" is really inviting and compelling, for all that he sings once again in a light tone of voice. As for his drumming, there hasn't been a better worker of a minimal setup in years -- he never needs to pound and often refrains from playing entirely -- while he's not bad on the occasional recorder turn either. Donald's guitar playing (and fine lyrics: he wrote them for all but one of the songs) and Monnones bass conjure up one delightful song after another -- it's seemingly effortless, but that does them a disservice to how well they avoid repeating themselves. It's no surprise based on hearing such songs as "From Here to Maternity," the punning title disguising a sharp portrait of a woman about to give birth without the father around, and "Thomas and Martha," detailing, in surprisingly affecting fashion, the tale of a hangman who put a woman to death, that Belle & Sebastian proclaimed themselves fans. Yet somehow the Lucksmiths just have that much more going for them, something truly inviting and affecting that reaches beyond the Scottish group's studied classicism.

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