Add Luke Steele’s name to the list of five people you’ll meet in heaven. Then scratch off all the rest.
Personality – One was a Spider, One was a Bird, the second album by Australia’s The Sleepy Jackson, is heaven encompassed in thirteen songs. This is the music of mountaintops. Grand. Sweeping. Epic. The album opens on the most fragile of wisps, Luke’s almost-whispered voice floating on a gentle summer breeze, and then explodes into the most bombastic stomp this side of ELO. The vessel is shattered, but Jeff Lynne’s prints are all over the glass. As you ascend farther into the clouds, the familiar sounds of George Harrison’s slide guitar and Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound production serenade and reassure your weary soul. The devil may be in your yard, but you don’t have a care in the world. Now what’s that up ahead? God may be leading your soul, but Brian Wilson is directing his choir of angels. Stop along the path for a brief respite and, at first sound, you’ll think heaven has a disco. I, however, just don’t agree. A bit of dark, pensive twang follows, and will have you wondering if those fellow Aussie religious Celibates (with Rifles) were on to something. As you reach the loftiest of peaks, you can survey your surroundings and safely declare yourself “Higher Than Hell.” Shout into the canyons and chasms below and listen as the sound echoes back in harmonies so gorgeous and rich, they rival the Beatles’ “Because.” At last you can kick back to your eternal rest, a soft pillow of strings creating the perfect score to accompany your dreams.
In short, this path to heaven is paved with the same mix of lushness and power that has characterized such great orchestral pop albums as George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Electric Light Orchestra’s Eldorado and XTC’s Skylarking. Luke is one of the latest torchbearers in a grand tradition reaching back to the days of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper. Teenage symphonies to God, indeed.
Eddie Money and friend are still milling around outside the gate, tickets in hand. Luke can get you in.