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Human Voicing


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  • Following their 2012 sophomore album, Animator, explorative indie rockers the Luyas expanded their lineup and decided to change up their writing and recording process. In an effort to capture how they actually sound when they play together, as opposed to polishing assigned parts, they embraced group improvisation in the studio. The first result of the experiment was their September 2016 EP, Says You, which was recorded in Montreal and produced by the Besnard Lakes' Jace Lasek. Following close behind in early 2017, the Luyas' third LP, Human Voicing, is very much a sister and sequel to that record, having been tracked in the same sessions. Compared to their earlier works, it is markedly looser and also more meandering, from a band that already challenged structure. Lead single "Self-Unemployed," for instance, crashes in with a drums-and-guitars jam before it settles into a groove under Jessie Stein's vocals ("Trouble in the multiverse when you don't make money"). Robotic backing vocals join in on repeated phrases, lending a Kraftwerk-like effect to otherwise churning, disheveled layers of bass, electronics, and noise effects. "Dream of Love" is more melodic, with a singing bassline and harmonic keys, though it takes unpredictable turns, establishing a kind of drifting quality that's somewhat offset by changes in instrumentation. At one point, the band mostly drops out, revealing Stein's voice, sustained bass, and drums as she comments, "I want a man's voice." Elsewhere, feedback challenges the uptempo "Beating Bowser," and irregular time signatures complicate the airy "Fed to the Lions." Having been recorded mostly live in the studio with a larger ensemble contributes heavily toward an album that seems to live and breathe -- somehow organic despite its very electronic, effects-heavy palette. Still, without a strict pop song in the bunch, Human Voicing is for admirers of texture, unpredictability, and slow reveals. ~ Marcy Donelson
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