St. Lucia’s ‘Matter’: Album Review

Stephen Sears | January 29, 2016 8:40 am
You could never accuse St. Lucia’s wunderkind leader Jean-Philip Grobler of concealing his intentions. Matter (out today, ), the band’s follow-up to 2013’s When The Night, is 11 thundering blasts of power pop. They’ve taken the debut’s cavernous sounds and exploded them: The melodies are sharper, the song structures more concise and Grobler’s vocals more assured. In fact, we haven’t heard a male pop vocalist sing his heart out this way since the ’80s.

First single, “Dancing On Glass” is an earworm of hooks and choral vocals. Throughout Matter, the details actually do matter: A funky, Prince-like guitar and falsetto breakdown midway through “Physical,” layers of shimmer glazed over “Stay,” or the sweet final minute (“go find me somebody to love!”) of the album’s lone midtempo, “Love Somebody.”

Grobler’s passion for building songs layer by layer is evident, but there’s a certain relentlessness about this album that sometimes overwhelms. “Physical” – St. Lucia’s sexxx track – gets mired in frenetic overproduction. If it’s about the pure pleasure of getting laid, that irritating repeated whoop on the chorus may chase you from the bed before you ever get to the good stuff. At the 4:38 point, the song winds down into a sensual coda that’s the first moment of breath on the album.

That doesn’t prevent Matter from being a pleasure. It’s easy in 2016 to shade everything as “so ’80s.” Aside from the overtly A Flock Of Seagulls pastiche of “Help Me Run Away,” this set of songs has more in common with the unabashed thrust of groups like Journey or Van Halen at their “Jump” synthiest.

If you haven’t seen St. Lucia in concert, get on it now. Matter,which works beautifully on earphones, will be floor-shaking in live shows. The galloping 90-second intro to the album’s poperatic centerpiece, “Rescue Me,” is punctuated by synth stabs that sound like they’ve been sampled from a Mannheim Steamroller Live at the Acropolis gig. If you’re too fresh to get that reference, then just get your body down to the gig.

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

Stephen Sears

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