The Luyas: Twee Pop, Reconfigured

May 13, 2011

Many of indie rock's best-known and most derided tics are on display in "Too Beautiful to Work," the title track from The Luyas' debut album. Between the fey title, Jessie Stein's ingenuous singing, arrangement help from Owen Pallett and the nervous rhythms, it's the kind of song that opts to reconfigure standard-issue parts rather than reinvent the wheel. But in this busy song, the Montreal band packs these qualities in so fast and thick, the feeling they're conveying outpaces any knee-jerk response to the music.

In "Too Beautiful to Work," you can hear The Luyas attempting to balance the need to feel novel and the need to seem familiar. It's the same tightrope that any band needs to walk, trying to attract fickle listeners without losing integrity. Having deemed themselves too attractive for day jobs, The Luyas' members nevertheless capture the overwhelming ambivalence of a job interview. In the verses, each line spills onto the other, sucking up oxygen: "Tak-en / as a / single / situ- / ation / not linked / to a- / nything." It's a turbo-twee approach to post-college neurosis. A comparatively roomy chorus rises above the grind momentarily before the band members resume the hard work of figuring out how they feel. Meanwhile, HR just wanted to see their problem-solving skills in action.

Its frenetic pace isn't one you'd want a band to keep up for too long. The rapid-fire approach may keep The Luyas from getting bogged down by formulas for one song, but the deep cuts that follow succeed by loosening up and breathing. The big, sweeping washes of sound that characterize the rest of the album further undermine those first impressions. The Luyas' members provoke and then beat back expectations; it turns out they're equally good at both. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit