All of the traits that made their outstanding debut EP from the previous year such a thrilling recording are still present, but Captain Audio upped the ante in every respect for its follow-up effort. Perhaps it had something to do with the amount of time the band had been together in comparison to the initial recording, but whatever the case, it is a much more confident and resolute affair, particularly in terms of the songwriting. Although the writing was accomplished and always interesting, it was ultimately hard to put a finger on exactly where the band was trying to take their sound on My Ears Are Ringing but My Heart's OK, but that isn't a contention on Luxury. From the mammoth, metallic-sounding opening drum beats buoyed by street noise to the expansive ocean ambience placed behind the final pedal steel notes, Captain Audio sketches out its purpose in thick, colorful lines and arrives at a scintillating, hitherto-unmined location on the pop music map. Everything about the album — about each of the dozen striking songs, in fact — feels epic. The band had flashed the evidence of such grandiosity before, but on Luxury they dive headfirst into huge-sounding (both in sound and in effect) pop music. It is the same dynamic that David Bowie approached in the mid-'70s, but Captain Audio additionally trims their sonic portentousness with the metallic Krautrock rhythmic clamor of Can and the bombastic majesty of Mercury Rev, multiplying the music's impact considerably. The band's experimental tendencies are again placed to the fore without losing any of their pop inclinations, melodies, or sing-along choruses. There is so much variation on the album that it takes numerous listens to fully discern the immensity of its accomplishment. The trio dives into Spanish rock with the very heavy "Los Pedasos" (and sings in Spanish no less than three times), while they are just as capable of slipping into lilting (but thoroughly updated) approximations of the Band's homespun melancholy ("Velvet") as they are imagining the Cure and computer-savvy Kraftwerk (the instrumental electro-new wave amalgam of "Piano Robotico III"). They settle into an ambient piano ballad ("Piano Robotico I"), toss out sad country inflections ("Because of You"), or knock off cosmic country folk ("Goodbye Suite") without flinching. It all sounds like freakazoid alien rock, music that has not really been invented yet and has found its way to Earth by some anomaly. And yet the album features a quality as old as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan-driven ambition, eclecticism buried like tangled DNA in the music, a sound so right for its time. There is nothing remotely predictable about Luxury, other than the consistently surprising thrills that it inspires.