trubluemagazine-record-review-luluc-passerby Music

Record Review: Luluc’s “Passerby”


From the first strains of “Small Window”, the opening track to Luluc’s excellent second record, Passerby, the gorgeous and delicately-paced tone is set. As the song gradually unfurls like a yawning lover on a lazy Sunday, it becomes apparent that Passerby, while unquestionably gentle, is an attention-grabbing affair, and one that can leave a listener spellbound nearly instantaneously. Among those who fell under Passerby‘s spell are Sub Pop co-founder Jonathon Poneman, who signed the band a mere 48 hours after hearing the record’s masters, a true testament to it’s deliberate majesty.

Co-produced by The National’s Aaron Dressner, a man who certainly knows how to express himself effectively while exhibiting the perfect amount of restraint, the songs on Passerby feature continually sparse instrumentation, sticking mostly to lightly plucked guitars and barely-touched drums, while focusing on Zoë Randell’s gorgeous, Nico-esque vocals.

Guitarist Steve Hassett and Randell by chance in Scotland during the annual Edinburgh arts and music festival, and knew they had something special the first time they harmonized together. Randell has a very unique and wonderfully understated beauty to her voice, and when paired with Hassett’s gentle harmonizing, the resulting heaven-sent sound is honestly breathtaking. Hassett clearly realizes this, and over the band’s short career has wisely allowed it to remain the enchanting centerpiece to the Luluc spell.

Hassett’s ability to show such restraint with both his singing and playing makes the choice of co-producer Dressner (who provides a lot of the backing instrumentation) all the more wise, as his own playing in The National has long been commended for wasting nary a note, despite his considerable talents. To listen to Passerby is to enter a dreamlike state, with each elegant song floating through your conscience while painting languid pictures from Luluc’s collective experience. A plaintive lover. A quiet moment in a backstage green room where a Nico record plays. A feline friend stretching in the sun. A New York City street scene. All unfold with a vivid beauty that transports you to the exact scene and it’s emotions.

It’s truly moving material, and makes for a very unique listening experience. Literally every time I’ve played Passerby, someone will look up in a daze, as if they just heard a long-forgotten voice from their past, and will ask me what’s playing. Even while writing this review and listening to the album I found myself staring off into the distance, my eyes glazed over in a thousand mile stare while I forgot myself and simply got lost in the music.

Least you think I’m being overly dramatic, Peter Blackstock, co-founder of No Depression Magazine, has said Passerby contains some of the most beautiful music he’s heard in a decade and compared the meeting of Randell and Hassett to that of both Simon and Garfunkel and Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. With so many industry folks falling under Luluc’s spell, you’d think it’s only a matter until the rest of the world does as well.

One can only hope, as Passerby is without a doubt one of my favorite records of the year.

Luluc 2014 tour dates with J. Mascis:
Wed 09/24/14 Hamden, CT The Ballroom at The Outer Space

Thu 09/25/14 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live

Fri 09/26/14 Baltimore, MD Ottobar

Sat 09/27/14 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506

Sun 09/28/14 Asheville, NC The Grey Eagle

Tue 09/30/14 Birmingham, AL BottleTree

Wed 10/01/14 Nashville, TN Exit / In

Thu 10/02/14 Athens, GA 40 Watt Club

Fri 10/03/14 Atlanta, GA Terminal West

Sat 10/04/14 Louisville, KY Zanzabar

Sun 10/05/14 St. Louis, MO Off Broadway Nightclub

Tue 10/07/14 Lawrence, KS The Bottleneck

Wed 10/08/14 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room

Thu 10/09/14 Minneapolis, MN Minneapolis Institute Of Arts

Fri 10/10/14 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon

Sat 10/11/14 Chicago, IL Subterranean

Mon 10/13/14 Ann Arbor, MI Blind Pig

Tue 10/14/14 Cleveland Heights, OH Grog Shop

Wed 10/15/14 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe

Thu 10/16/14 Washington, DC Black Cat

Fri 10/17/14 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom

Sat 10/18/14 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair

Appearing at “Fun Fun Fun Fest”
Sun 11/09/14 Austin, TX Auditorium Shores

Tue 11/11/14 Phoenix, AZ The Crescent Ballroom

Wed 11/12/14 San Diego, CA The Casbah

Thu 11/13/14 Long Beach, CA Alex’s Bar

Fri 11/14/14 Los Angeles, CA Echo

Sat 11/15/14 San Francisco, CA The Independent

Sun 11/16/14 Sonoma, CA Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Wed 11/19/14 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern

Thu 11/20/14 Portland, OR Dante’s

Fri 11/21/14 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge

Sat 11/22/14 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge

Sun 12/07/14 Utrecht, Netherlands Tivoli De Helling

Thu 12/18/14 Oslo, Norway Parkteatret AS

Final Thoughts

A deliberately paced beauty of an record.

Overall Score 4.3