31
Oct
08

Dressed in Borrowed Time and Finery: Luxury Stranger’s Desolation

Several months ago I found out about a Nottingham-based band called Luxury Stranger via MySpace. Oddly enough, I had already met the bass player, Chris Ruscoe, who happened to be at the two IAMX shows I attended a year ago, but who wasn’t in Luxury Stranger yet. The rest of the band is composed of drummer, Owen Walton, and vocalist/guitarist, Simon York, who used to be signed to Roadrunner Records with former band Delirium (and who incidentally is related to William of Orange). They are about to release their debut album, Desolation, which reminds me of my favourite post-punk/new wave bands like The Chameleons, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Pornography/Faith/Seventeen Seconds era of The Cure (in fact, perhaps I would still be enjoying The Cure if Luxury Stranger wrote their melodies for them), but as much as York’s vocals veer into Robert Smith agonized cadences and tones and the occasional Ian McCulloch quaver, they also remind me of the gravelly, masculine posture of grunge and the full bass tonality of someone like Eddie Vedder. Luxury Stranger has also cultivated a rather enigmatic profile via guerrilla marketing; for example, if you were lucky enough to find a Luxury Stranger card lying around, you became an honourary member of the Luxury Stranger elite. After listening to Desolation, it seems the world this elite occupies is one of industrial decadence, like a limousine pulling up to the curb in the Lace Market, offering you a few sordid moments above your station. There is both a sense of dangerous urgency and a doomed despondency, a naked bipolarity that seems too tenuous and tense to last without tearing the narrator in two.

Opening track, Dirt, is indeed dirty in its gritty guitar sounds and self-loathing lyrics. York’s delivery of “I’m dirt” ranges from petulant declaration to raspy scream, demanding attention like a dark dare to all the “clean girls.” Substance is more punky and angular than Dirt and features verses that are actually reminiscent of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me Cure and then a poppy, infectious chorus. Inner Eye slouches along like a shambolic shadow in lockstep to ticking, precise drums as though the narrator’s wrought desire cannot be unshackled nor diluted in shady alleys. Falling on the punkier side of post-punk like Substance, Marlene has an incredible hook as it conjures up images of a femme fatale worthy of The Blue Angel. Slowing down to a more contemplative tone, Paradise Untouched builds layer upon layer of dramatic sound as escapist promises escalate, dressed in borrowed time and finery. Grounded is one of the most memorable tracks for me on the album with its propulsive guitars and “wrap you up in plastic” refrain; in this song there’s an unabashed, transparent revelry in the way human relationships become power struggles of puppetry.

The album then takes a slower, more atmospheric turn. With its echoing drums and gentle washes of guitars, Dreaming Our Lives Away is a moody ballad of romantic intentions that reiterates some of the escapist tendencies of Paradise Untouched, emphasizing a yearning for preserving ephemera, which wouldn’t be so precious if it weren’t so transient. Item continues the atmosphere of sombre brooding with an insistent lower register that swells like a dirge against the backsliding backbeat as the narrator drags his directionless feet away from the wreckage of his heart that he can now only view as a detached, abstract item. NMQP picks the pace back up again with the plea of “no more questions please” and breezier guitars. The record’s coda is Don’t Go, a track that begins with a skeleton of acoustic guitar, but which continues to round out its sound and culminates in more wounded self-absorption reaching for the last vestiges of love, or for what would pass for love for any navel-gazing romantic. The naked last breaths that plead “don’t go” belie a true vulnerability behind the gothic bravado of the earlier tracks.

In addition to the tracks from the album, I was also able to listen to two bonus tracks (which are currently streaming at Luxury Stranger’s MySpace): Completion and Precious For Evermore. The former is a driving melody with a vindictive, vicious vocal performance from a possessive lover – a Phantom of the Rock Opera; the latter is a bass-driven ode to masochistic voyeurism and more need for preservation and possession of an idealized lover. Hopefully, both are to see some sort of official release whether as part of a sophomore effort or as bonus tracks for this debut.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the darker, brooding side of post-punk and also into fist-pumping forceful rock, I would definitely recommend Luxury Stranger. Considering I’m in Canada and that there’s a low likelihood of my returning to the Nottingham area any time soon, I asked whether I would be able to get some cards of my own to spread throughout Canada. Though the cards were ostensibly sent to me twice, I never did end up receiving those cards, which leads me to believe that I am neither luxurious nor strange enough to be a part of the Luxury Stranger elite. Or perhaps our postal worker is indeed more luxurious and a bit stranger than I thought.

Luxury Stranger’s MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/luxurystranger

Grounded – Luxury Stranger

Item – Luxury Stranger

Completion – Luxury Stranger

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

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So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

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Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

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Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

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Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

Photobucket

You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

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I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

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You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

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LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

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You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

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Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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