Every so often a band comes along that really has something to say, and they say it with such originality that they cannot be ignored. Luxury on the other hand are an INXS for the '00s. They achieve modern status by feeding some admittedly quite engaging electronica into the mix, but even so, Transition lacks any edge or originality.
This is the Australian band's first UK album release. First single, Loaded, pitches up with some dark but nonetheless workaday lyrical sentiment (i.e. poetic obscurity is the norm in this field). Redemption comes in the form of an instrumental bridge section laced with Eastern punch, intriguing beats and searing guitar. And that's about it for excitement. The rest of the album wanders aimlessly off into the realms of bic-flicking, arm-swaying arena rock.
It's a shame that so much potential - the press release layered it on with the promise of "energetic beats, distorted guitar riffs and loops" - amounts to nothing much. Actually this is a bit harsh. The songwriting is refined, the performance is professional and the production is slick. But maybe that's the problem. Transition is self-produced, but under the obviously over-bearing studio guidance of Rob Taylor (INXS - surprise!) and Craig Portiel (Billy Idol) the personality is lost. The influence these two had is all too obvious.
Certainly the band have looked around for something different by suffusing their music with electronics, but what they found in the studio toy-box does not overcome the feeling that this is the same old angsty grown-up pop rock with a few special effects. And Scott Ryper's vocals contain just too much of the faux smouldering tension of fellow Oz Michael Hutchence to take the sound anywhere new - right down to the almost spoken, breathy tones that made the latter such a ladies man in the '80s. I doubt if it will work again - the world has moved on. When he does venture from the Hutchence timbre, he heads straight for the safety of a Billy Idol sneer. Over-exerted producer influence you see! To be fair, This Is The Sound reveals glimpses of what he could achieve if he fought his own vocal battles.
If Luxury want to do something that ignites the passion of the serious music-buying public, they need to move away from the cosy pop rock field, take some risks, persuade Ryper to find his own voice and get someone like Steve Hillage to produce their next effort. But maybe they like playing it safe . . .
:: Tom Alford