Walker Lukens

Modern Outsider, 2019

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Austin Texas-based Walker Lukens makes music that would please pretty much anyone. But his music is anything but generic. His third release, Spoon’s Jim Eno-produced Adult, is a splendid pop record that is as refreshingly different as it is wildly entertaining. Every song here is loud and spunky, and made for pop radio, without actually sounding much like anything being played these days on the aforesaid medium.

The bombastic opener “Tear It Out My Heart,” is dancy and full of energy, with Lukens belting out every word with swagger. Much like the rest of the record, this track has a bit of blues and soul in the vocals, with sleek guitar and synth based music behind it, sounding totally contemporary.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“We See U”  is driven by sparse robotic beats, but Lukens’ soulfully energetic vocals breathe a new life into this cut. On the other hand, “Dark Matter,” which is also electronic-leaning, is probably the only seemingly dark number on Adult. This track veers into trip-hop territory, with bleak hip-hop beats and Lukens’ suffocatingly muffled vocals. That is, until the angelic female vocal-led chorus steps in and liberates the song, which, in the end, comes out with its own kind of contemplative catchiness.

“Frankie & Bella” and “Heard You Bought A House,” with infectious drumming and Lukens’ passionately upbeat singing, are contagiously playful and peppy. Lukens’ channelization of his inner Prince with the unexpected explosive guitar solo at the end of “Heard You Bought A House,” is simply superb. Another great musician, Lenny Kravitz, can be heard being channeled, quite elegantly, on the swaggering “U2me2,” with its loud guitars and flamboyantly soulful vocals.

The final three tracks, “I’ll Take The Dog,” “Didn’t Wanna Do Right,” and “Baby,” which are the most   R&B-influenced on this record, show how brilliantly Lukens can contemporize a style, by making the songs appear like modern indie cuts, without messing up their classic sounds, and giving them a whole new level of charm.

The idea behind Adult is well thought of, as an album about growing up and what this means; such as, (in Lukens’ words) “getting your philosophy of life straight.” Adult is more reflective than its songs would lead you to believe. For instance, Lukens’ gloomy thought process behind the unflinchingly buoyant “Heard You Bought A House,” a very “adult” thing to do, is that he probably cannot afford a house! Yet, there is not a hint of irony on the surface of any of Adult’s numbers, and all they do is make you dance and smile through and clever and mature!

Rating: A-

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