Fictional places in music are nothing new. Back in the ‘70s, Eagles boiled down their disillusionment with the Sunshine State on ‘Hotel California’, though now plenty of budget motels have co-opted the, quite frankly, haunted establishment. Hell, just last year Arctic Monkeys dreamed up the ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, a luxurious, downtrodden complex on the moon, where the house band is trapped in an eternal contract playing “two shows a day, four nights a week”. At these places, you can seemingly never check out.
Australian musician Alex Lahey has employed a similar method for new album ‘The Best Of Luck Club’, but this one’s a bit more down-to-earth. Inspired by chance meetings at barstools in Nashville, where large parts of the second record was written, and the customary well-wishing and “best of lucks” that’d close a conversation, the ‘fictional’ place became a refuge and inspiration. “Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life,” there’s always someone willing for a chat, she’s said of the release.
For an album influenced by the scruffy, charismatic dive bars of America’s most musical city, ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ dreams big. Opening song ‘I Don’t Get Invited To Parties Anymore’ starts with a brooding guitar riff, then explodes with a damn catchy chorus best suited for arenas. Likewise, ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’, an ambitious and life-affirming rock belter, features a sax solo for the ages.
It’s a welcome progression from ‘I Love You Like A Brother’, her charming 2017 debut which was more intimate in scale, though the witty and honest songwriting has carried over into this release. ‘Unspoken History’ is a crushing song that hints at a relationship teetering on collapse; “We used to be unbeatable / You used to be my saint / Now I fear that it might be too late”. The politics of a living arrangement with a partner is broken down on ‘I Want To Live With You’, where books and records are being combined and moving cardboard boxes litter the space. Lahey captures intricacies smartly, and without cliché.
‘The Best of Luck Club’ is not quite as immediate as the bruising garage-rock intensity of her debut, but this is instead a world-building release. So pull up a stool and take a seat. If you stick around long enough here, there’s a good chance you might not want to leave.