2013 is the year the '90s got their groove back in the form of Magic Hour, the first album from Luscious Jackson in 14 years! Jill Cunniff, Kate Schellenbach, and Gabby Glaser are in fantastic form, recreating their classic sound without sounding dated...
I'm often accused, due to my disdain for the deluge of dreck on the radio, of being a music snob and I'm guilty as charged but those who think I don't appreciate pop or like fun in my music are so wrong. Dance music doesn't have to be dumb, it just usually is but Magic Hour is fun without being vapid or inane, pop without being puerile.
"You And Me" opens the record with a retro-tinged funk hook and groove, the foundation of which is built on the blend of Schellenbach's live drumming supplemented by loops and beats. The chorus isn't the most memorable on the record but there's still a delightful pop presence and the familiar approach of layering a low-register whisper and upper register vocal in unison- a staple of the LJ sound.
"#1 Bum" is built on a reggae sound and I'm not sure if it walks or straddles the fine line between fun and novelty but I don't care because I will give $20 to any woman who will make this their ringtone for me. It's fun, funny, and more than a little catchy. There are so many degrading, awful songs reducing women to sex objects. LJ turns the tables here and pay homage to their "male J-Lo" and does so in a spirit of playful desire rather than demeaning drivel.
The classic LJ sound was heavy on beats and hip hop sensibility but there were always live instruments and an undercurrent of rock. That dimension is best recreated on, "Show Us What You Got," a great tune with a swagger to it. "We Go Back" is another song that puts the guitar out front and boasts great harmonies in the chorus. These are two of the album's highlights.
The gem of the record comes in the form of the urgent "Frequency." The album mix is built on a great dance beat but this is one of those songs demanding remix treatment for clubs all over America. It has hit written all over it and would have been a smash single had it been on Fever In Fever Out or Electric Honey and yet it still sounds fresh and vital, something of the moment.
Magic Hour is a bit of a misnomer because at 10 songs and 38 minutes the record feels a little slight, especially for the couple tracks that don't hold up against the rest of the album. There's still more than enough magic to make the return of Luscious Jackson a welcome and triumphant one.