Luxury has a new album titled Trophies. It’s the result of 2015 Kickstarter campaign, where fortunate supporters received an advance copy of it. However, it was not officially released in until last month. Some may have been a little confused because one of the album’s supporters was Lars Gotrich at NPR, who covered the project before its actual release date. It’s receiving an extra publicity push now in association with the recently arranged distribution of band’s documentary, Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury, which chronicles the act’s noteworthy career. Luxury’s sometimes rocky road includes a horrific auto accident that left group members with nearly crippling injuries.
Even at the outset of its career, back when Luxury recorded for Christian rock label Tooth & Nail, it was a conspicuous sore-thumb-sticking-out outlier. The act (particularly its lead singer Lee Bozeman) was obsessed with The Smiths. This made Luxury one of the coolest Christian alternative acts, which also – much like The Smiths – incorporated androgynous elements into its lyrics and performances. How they got away with that one, all during the pre-LGBTQ rights progress era, is a supernatural feat of some sort.
Adding to its mystique, three of the group’s members are now ordained Eastern Orthodox priests. Their ability to balance an adventurous rock & roll past with such a present traditional priestly calling is especially difficult to fathom. And yet, these four joined back together to make an especially strong album – perhaps their best release to date.
Lee Bozeman oftentimes writes nearly impenetrable lyrics, and this approach is once again applied to these ten Trophies songs. The album’s title track is a reflective ballad, which finds Bozeman singing vaguely about a handful of trophies. He also sings, “I won’t let this happen to us.” This might be a song about marriage; one that focuses on the here-and-now, rather resting on any laurels. In contrast, “Parallel Love” is just as guitar-y aggressive, as “Trophies” is gentle. Luxury is, after all, a rock & roll band.
Bozeman is a strong singer, and his powerful voice is consistently matched with instrumentation that sometimes jangles, sometimes jams. I have no idea what “Ginsberg Reading Howl” is actually about, but any band smart enough to reference a poet and his greatest social commentary poem in a song title, deserves my ever loving props.
Luxury was always a curiosity, and sometimes a troubling one at that. The group never had a chance to become the next Newsboys, and probably would have achieved more career traction by avoiding the whole Christian marketplace completely. Trophies proves the act is much more than a mere evangelical oddball, though. This strong set of songs reveals that the something special they first displayed in the 90s, is still an active force.