Chicago-based lo-fi/synth rock band The Go Luckys, the music collaboration of Matt Perius and Kacey Oesterreich, unveiled its self-released debut album, Cruel December, on New Year's Eve as the curtains closed on 2021. Although we're well on our way into the new year, the eight tracks that span the twenty-plus minutes of this refreshing album release warrant a proper shout out and listen.
At first listen, the chill, lo-fi, electronic vibe of Cruel December most immediately pulls in the listener. Underneath the occasionally quirky and less-is-more production, lie solidly written songs with captivating melodies, unpretentious vocals, and honest, introspective lyrical themes. The Go Luckys consider themselves unpredictable when it comes to the style and sound of their music. As I listen to Cruel December, I hear whispers and influences of indie/electronic artists such as Saint Etienne (Sound Of Water), I Start Counting (My Translucent Hands), Royksöpp (Melody AM), and Kraftwerk (The Man-Machine). The resulting sound of The Go Luckys is unique, alluring and captivating.
Cruel December has been a labor of love for The Go Luckys that's gradually taken shape over time. The band writes and records all their songs out of a small apartment on the north side of Chicago. "It took us about three years to finally finish Cruel December," the band remarks. "The album represents a lot of different things to us and comes from a few different times in our lives."
The wintry-sounding "Cold Wind" with its electronic, drone-like intro gives way to the relaxed, low key, and distant sounding "Sense Of Time." "Shot In The Dark" picks up the pace, with its blend of gentle, optimistic-sounding keyboard sequences and upbeat percussion.
Written at the height of the pandemic leading into November 2020, title track "Cruel December" follows. The band comments, "It’s about feeling like things were sorta hopeless but trying to let go, realize that some things in life are out of our control, and to not let it ruin us."
"The tide is rollin' in
What am I to do?
Every little minute counts
Take my bow, wanderin' off with you
The tide is rollin' in, can't get in
I'm running out of juice
The world may end today, that's ok
I can't control the news
I won't forget this time"
The pace and ultra-smooth synth progressions of "Inches" presumably pay homage to Kraftwerk, the iconic pioneeers of electronic music ("Inches left in this race of love | Nothing more I want than this time, just us").
"Go Get It" probably ranks as the most sing-along track on Cruel December with its catchy chorus and bridge ("I said 1, 2, 3 | Days go by | I try so hard not to lose mind | Feelin' fine"). The band provides some insight into the track's lyrical theme: "'Go Get it' is about quitting cigarettes and nicotine and the different thoughts and feelings that went into that experience."
"Awaken I Will" and "What am I doin?" wrap up Cruel December, with the latter encapsulating the album's common, underlying theme. "The entire album is really just about the experience of being in your 20's in today's world. Navigating all the crazy shit that is happening in the world while also trying to figure out what you want outta life," the band commnets. "We felt that the last track, 'What am I doin?' really embodies that feeling."
So, while the month of December may have come and gone, Cruel December is an innovative, laid-back and engaging listen to take in year round. Check it out!