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Strange Glory

Lucas Renney

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Album Review

Lucas Renney enjoyed 15 minutes of almost-fame (at least in the U.K.) with the band the Golden Virgins, who were touted as the next big thing before their 2004 album Songs of Praise was released to enthusiastic reviews but minimal sales at home, and near total indifference in the United States. With the Golden Virgins just a memory, Renney has stepped forward on his own with his first solo album, Strange Glory, and it's an impressive move in a new direction. Moving away from the brittle and sometimes mannered indie rock of the Golden Virgins, Strange Glory is an album that revels in subtle dynamics and melancholy elegance. Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins produced Strange Glory, and the album's musical approach isn't dissimilar to that iconic group, but Renney's songs generate a warmer and more resonant tone of heartbreak and loneliness, and on tunes like "A Tear in the Sea," "How I Wanted You," and "These Same Stars," his late-night meditation on romances gone wrong, reveal a melodic sophistication all the more affecting for its gentle tone. While Renney sounds like a guy who had been on the wrong end of a breakup more than once, Strange Glory doesn't come off as an album of introspective self-pity; there are moments of eloquent bitterness and disappointment that season this music without turning the protagonist into a heartless wretch, and the simple but beautifully modulated craft of Renney's voice, and the arrangements (performed by an ensemble including members of Midlake) make this a remarkable listening experience. You won't want to play Strange Glory at a party, but if you've looking for a soundtrack as you obsess over old lovers at 3 a.m., Lucas Renney delivers the goods with intelligence and pale fire; this ranks with the most accomplished debuts of recent memory.

Strange Glory, Lucas Renney
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