Album: Alex Maas – Luca review

by Philip Moss

The timing of a record entering the world can often speak a thousand words – even before you drop the needle – and Luca’s December entrance makes the album feel like an ideal accompaniment to the dark, cold nights

The temperature is set from lead single, Been Struggling, which, born from memories of of a conversation with an unnamed ‘she’, its murmuring, chilled chords grow to a sublime ramshackle of lo-fi instrumentation around Maas’ voice. But, lyrically, it is an anthem for optimism: the Texan standing up against the craziness of the world, and the societal expectations that he would be like ‘the rest o’ them boys’. Defiant and seemingly content to helm his own path, he refuses to conform.

Elsewhere, the record does wander into some fuzzily experimental waters. But at no point does Maas feel out of him comfort zone, despite the LP being such a departure from his work with longtime band, The Black Angels. The centrepiece pairing of 500 Dreams and What Would I Tell Your Mother carry the haunting Southern Gothicism of Deerhunter’s Microcastle – in fact, the former – a sweet ode to his son – is narrated by a voice that sounds so close to Bradford Cox that you’d swear it could only be him.

Sitting somewhere between the haunted timbres of Leonard Cohen’s Various Positions and Vic Chesnutt’s West of Rome, Luca is certainly night time music. A collection to call upon and get lost in at the end of the day – and one that moves perfectly to the flicker of candle light. Maas is certainly a voice we can all rely on in the dark.

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