Southern California's Duraluxe added pianist Frank Lenz for their 2002 album The Suitcase. Led by Christopher Colbert's shimmering guitar work and Troy Daugherty's effortless vocals, this album is more straightforwardly poppy than the band's previous efforts. Drummer Mark Emge, bassist Brian Blue, and organist Megan Morrison round out the lineup. The pop sounds on the record are borderline psychedelic, infusing Flaming Lips-like rock with Sparklehorse-like cosmic pop. The opening track, "Your Boarding Pass...," is an vocal experimental ditty. After the flamboyant pop/rock of the first real song of the disc, "Your Boarding Pass...," the mellow second and third tracks, "7ths & Minors" and "All Together Now," set the album's sails, perfectly creating a calm and peaceful tone for the rest of the disc. The latest version of their song "Hit So Hard (Winsome Version)" is more orchestral than previously, and the addition of harmonies adds a new element to the song as well. The intelligent lyrics on "For the Memory of St. Joan" and the rowdy rock of "Sometimes" are possibly the most impressive songs on the disc. The vocals on "Helium Hand of Power" are blanketed by a layer of sublime and mellow instrumentation. Richard Swift guests on piano on the track. The disc ends with the experimental track "&I-95," the opening of which closely matches the first track, before launching into song. The Suitcase was recorded at California's Green Room Studios and released on Hidden Agenda Records in 2002.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer