Ed Harcourt's 2010 album Lustre is a sweepingly romantic, epic, and sparkling collection of tunes that finds the British singer/songwriter ruminating on true love, money issues, and parenthood in a way that only a man who has found his place in the world can. Always a brooding type, Harcourt certainly clocks some serious vampire time here -- there's even a song titled "Killed by the Morning Sun" -- but there is a bright-eyed optimism to these songs that lifts them from the shadows. From the title track on, it is clear that Harcourt is less concerned about his own sad-sack misery and more about the redemptive qualities in his lover's eyes. He sings "Lustre when your worries are lonely/Lustre on the sweat of your lip/But lustre never shines in the final scene when sticking to the script/And I see lustre in your eyes." A similar sentiment is voiced in the grandly romantic "Haywired," where Harcourt explicitly details how his wife saved his life. He sings "The self-destructive don't believe that there's a crisis they can leave and then I married you." Then, at the three-minute mark, Harcourt, backed by thumping drums, shimmering piano, and little analog keyboard swells, delivers the album's clearest imperative: "It's not easy to be happy, get away with it." The song, much like the rest of Lustre, is aching and triumphant all at the same time. Throw in such driving and blinding melodic pop moments as "Do as I Say Not as I Do," where "trees are bending over to make room for the moon" and where Harcourt apologizes "to all the people that I might have offended it wasn’t that intended/I hope we can amend it," and Lustre takes on a kind of cinematic joy where Harcourt the long-suffering vampiric troubadour steps into the light and shines.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar