Album: The Sleepy Jackson

Lovers, Virgin
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The Independent Culture

Luke Steele, the driving force behind The Sleepy Jackson, from Perth, Australia, brings a rich diversity to his debut album, drawing on old-time country and folk, Sixties psychedelia and Eighties-style electro-pop for inspiration. The sun-drenched opener, "Good Dancers", in which Steele adopts a reedy falsetto, brings to mind the swirling psychedelia of Mercury Rev, while "Come to This" is a clear homage to Bob Dylan, right down to the abrasive 50-a-day vocals. "Don't You Know", which has a children's choir chanting against a loping electronic groove, could sit happily on any Flaming Lips LP. There's a engaging directionlessness here, as if Steele has simply thumbed his way through his record collection and pilfered the best bits. Yet Lovers is more than the sum of its influences. Lyrically, it's packed with pain and heartache - "This Day" ("You miss my friends more than you ever miss me") sees a couple reach the end of the road, while "Acid in My Heart" ("It's true I never had no fun with you") focuses on the bitterness that inevitably follows. Other songs reveal a mischievous streak - the tragi-comic "Miniskirts" sees the singer daydreaming about what it would be like to wear girl's clothes against a jaunty backdrop of pedal steel and acoustic guitar. An idiosyncratic gem.