Shelflife Records is one of the most reliably delightful little labels in our universe, so we are always willing to pay attention to one of their releases. Their latest nugget is the self-titled debut album from The Luxembourg Signal, and guitar pop fans may well judge it to be one of the best releases this autumn. Treading — or maybe swaggering down — the line between dream pop and shoegaze, with hints of ’90s college rock, this band sounds like a Sarah Records band reborn with the benefit of added power sources and a more mature outlook on songwriting. And that may be because, more or less, that’s what this band is. Members Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy and Brian Espinosa, all of whom were with Sarah Records darling Aberdeen (and Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars), started The Luxembourg Signal with Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford.
The ten tracks on The Luxembourg Signal are emotionally rich thematically and musically. Arzy’s perpetually youthful vocals remain a sweetly commanding focal point, while the guitars crash, thunder and soar in support. The previously released second track “Distant Drive” heralded the guitar power that the band would deliver on this recording. But the band’s depth is revealed by the more pop oriented third and fourth tracks, “Heaven” and “She Loves to Feel the Sun”. Track five, “First Light”, unspools like a delicious slice of Echo and the Bunnymen or Bauhaus, with shoegaze overdrive. The sixth and seventh tracks, “Drowning” and “Wishing Pool”, envelope the listener in waves of thick, jangling guitars. “Un-Phased” is a brief and gentle instrumental, and serves as a delightful lead-in to the driving dream pop “We Go On”, which may ultimately be one of many fans’ favorites on this album. The album closer, “Let It Go” is a surprising and perfectly constructed jam, with near top 40 bounce and a delightful vocal hook wrapped in shoegaze.
The Luxembourg Signal is an LA-based band, although Arzy still resides in the UK so recording time together is limited. I don’t know what that all means for the future recording output from the band, but I do know that this first effort is amazingly good and I highly recommend it.