Ed Harcourt Ed HarcourtLustre
Ed Harcourt is a clever boy, but he’s also one of those guys who’ve had it all. From a wooden horse when they were a kid to the latest electric wurlitzer when they weren’t so little anymore. And you can tell. Who else would be able to dedicate their time so completely to composing songs? He brags about having composed over 500 songs, and counting. When he was 20 he already had 300, and some say it was his girlfriend, frightened of her boyfriend’s uncontrollable superpower, who encouraged him to present a handful of them to a record company (the first to publish them, attentively, was Heavenly), and he became the guy that everyone wanted at their side. Or something like that. Because Ed has collaborated with almost everybody (it’s true, the list is endless. This is just a brief survey: Ron Sexsmith, Shivaree, The Divine Comedy, Wilco, Rosie Thomas, The Gutter Twins, Neil Finn and Jamie Cullum). But before this, he got together a noisy punk pop band ( Snug) that didn’t get very far. So he decided to sit down at the piano again and throw himself into whatever there was on the other side. He put out four albums: “Here Be Monsters”, “From Every Sphere”, “Strangers” and “The Beautiful Lie” (received with uneven results, showing signs that the formula, which has never been entirely convincing, had reached a dead end) and then later a fifth: “Lustre”, the album we’re writing about here.
“Lustre” is another handful of elegantly sad songs from the boy from Wimbledon (who as well, has a curious aristocratic past), who preceded this album with the most unfortunate episode of his career, “Beautiful Lie”, which was a highly sentimental affair that intended to be closer than it was to the spirit of Jeff Buckley , by way of the whirring of the fan of Elbow. And what is the story with “Lustre”? Well, it just barely moves. That is to say, his songs continue to flirt too much with melodrama ( “Killed By The Morning Sun” is an obvious examples: piano, guitar with exquisitely dusted frets, and terrifying lyrics, “Imagine that there’s a morning that you are never alone because I’ll never leave you and you’ll never leave me”), but at times they get twisted and turn into perfect pop devices in tatters: “A Secret Society” has class, strength, and even a little bad blood, something that is missing from the world of white keys without interferences that good old Harcourt seems to live in since he left the kitchen. Because Harcourt was learning to be a cook before he was a piano man.
The thing is that if he has to get melodramatic, he embroiders the formula, as happens in “So I've Been Told”, the second-to-last song on the album, followed by the excellent wanderings through the anxious everyday life of a father in trouble ( “Fears of a Father”). It isn’t easy to do something like that. Achieving the intensity necessary so that your song isn’t just one more of a million sad songs in the world isn’t a piece of cake, and Ed, used to making all his dreams come true, seems to think, “what the hell, after all, it’s only a song, isn’t it?” No, Ed, it’s something more. And laughing at oneself by writing a song called “Lachrimosity” might be going too far. And to dare to whisper that you have the heart of a wolf (literally) doesn’t help. The chorus of “A Secret Society” helps (have I mentioned that it’s the best cut on the album?), and not much more. It is true that the production is excellent, if we ignore his flirtations with electronic music ( “Church Of No Religion”). Definitively, this is the album of a pretty boy who thinks he is too good-looking. Or the album that Ken would give to Barbie if that were possible.