Luxo Jr are mid-way through a long session of recording demos when I am invited to chat with them. They warmly allow me to join them in a bedroom, which doubles up as a rehearsal room and home studio. Following a brief debate amongst the band as to how many songs they now have under their belt, drummer Nick informs me that they have prepared three new songs, and allow me to listen to two of the demos recorded throughout the day.
Upcoming track ‘Bellybutton’ is ecstatically ambitious, a lively offering of the band’s reign of rhythm, style and experimental vocal sound. It slickly changes style and tempo throughout and has a driving element of funk and keyboard instrumentation. Like in many of Luxo Jr’s tracks, the vocals perform an important role and ultimately give a solid sense of coherence to their music.
Lead singer Laurence Morgan has difficulty describing his style; his voice is partly folky but Luxo Jr’s sound is far from that. It is an experimental infusion of alternative rock, folk, and a good serving of pop hooks – undeniably catchy. His vocal range is impressive, and the apt delivery of different melodies in ‘Another Working Day’ produces a progressive and dynamic sound that keeps pushing the further you get into the track. When questioned on their style, Laurence jokes that it’s got the catchiness of “pop, before it was a dirty word” adding, “when it was more about songwriting”. Joking aside, he notes that collectively their most recognisable influence is that of Everything Everything and the delivery of key vocal effects in their music definitely underpins this claim.
Luxo Jr is made up of self-conscious musicians, who pool together from a vast knowledge of music, pop-culture and film to create a fresh musical experience, their name alone references a timeless film character from animation studio Pixar. But Laurence is quick to point out that their music is not childlike, instead they make film references to express their own shared interests and experiences, of the Simpsons, Hitchcock’s Rear Window and more explicitly, in their adaptation of the theme from Fargo.
In ‘Nightclubbing’, strong vocal hooks bounce off funky bass and the catchy lyrics produce a harmonic sense of fun. It’s a song that just keeps on giving. Showcasing the skills of each member of the band, ‘Nightclubbing’ is a quintessential track to understanding what Luxo Jr are about. Yet, as an early record in the band’s life, it’s impossible to predict where the group’s evolving sound will take them.
When questioned on their future plans, the group explain that they are approaching the final stages of writing and rehearsing of three new songs for gigging and are in the process of completing the preparation for a whole set of entirely original material. They don’t do filler. They write and re-write until the time comes to call a song up for the firing line and even during recording this evolutionary process continues. As a group of highly musically literate musicians, it should come as no surprise that their music is cleverly tied together, and Laurence comments that his intentions were to bridge their new EP together with interludes to create a whole experience.
I am finally treated to a demo of ‘Skipping Stones’, a flowing track that grows in narrative and is treated with repetitive vocals, but is still in early stages of its production. I’ve learnt a lot about this group from our time together: their open-minded ethos and musical practice. They are tight, they are intelligent, and they are developing rapidly. Luxo Jr are on the way to having a rock-solid set to perform, an EP to release, and an entire musical landscape to infiltrate. If you’re looking for something new, truly exciting, and very confident in its explorative world, be sure to listen to listen to Luxo Jr, as it will only tease your cravings for a defiant new sound.
You can see Luxo Jr supporting Frontier Ruckus on February 21st at The Basement, York.
By Thomas Rosser