NZCA Lines – Pure Luxury

Just bask in the pure luxury of NZCA Lines' most satisfying album yet.
Released: 10th July 2020
Rating: ★★★

Not many people would write a break-up song about an ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. But Michael Lovett has always been made of different stuff. He named his project NZCA Lines, after the Peruvian geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, and created a wonky disco album about the imminent destruction of humanity after all.

He’s always been an interesting musician, evolving over time and opening himself up to new ideas and collaborations. ‘NZCA Lines’ felt insular and coldly beautiful while ‘Infinite Summer’ felt grander, like a sci-fi epic. Now, with ‘Pure Luxury’, Lovett has seemingly taken his own advice from “Primp & Shine” and treated himself to all the luxuries he’s been trying to stop himself from enjoying.

Whether it’s a result of becoming part of Metronomy’s live band, or a rejection of the pigeon holes applied to him over the last two albums, ‘Pure Luxury’ is more colourful, more lavish and more groovy than ever before.

‘Take This Apart’ aside, a strange shoegazey ballad that feels a little out of place, you’d be hard-pressed to even recognise this NZCA Lines as the same one that released ‘Okinawa Channels’. Even the ostensible ballad, ‘For Your Love’, swoons with grandiose strings and a bouncing bassline. It feels like Lovett has unlocked a new palette of playful sounds, even going so far as to sample the groovy bongos of The Gap Band’s ‘Outstanding’ among the squelchy synths of ‘Real Good Time’.

Positioned surprisingly as something of a “current affairs” record, it can sometimes feel like ‘Pure Luxury’ is labouring its point. Written in the aftermath of Brexit and Trump, lines like “Fukushima in the water poisoning the food we eat / comfort in denial 1.5 or probably 2 degrees” strike a little rote now we’re god knows how many “current affairs” albums into those events. And yet, when Lovett keeps it simple, it’s magical. While lamenting long-distance relationships on ‘For Your Love’, the line “I heard your voice through a photograph” hits harder because of its simplicity.

But, with ‘Pure Luxury’, none of that matters too much because Lovett’s goal is ultimately to take your mind off those dizzying world-changing events. It’s much better as an antidote than a clumsy reminder. The technicolour melodies and warped beats are all designed to make you dance, and it certainly succeeds. As Lovett croons on the album’s closer, “Tonight is all that really matters, as long as we keep dancing”. What happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow is nothing to concern yourself with right now. Just bask in the pure luxury of NZCA Lines’ most satisfying album yet.

Chris Taylor

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