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St. Lucia Brings Burst of Eighties’ Energy to New Haven

Corey McCabe

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This Friday (September 23), indie-electronic pop artist St. Lucia will be headlining New Havens College Street Music Hall, in support of his latest album Matter. South-African born Jean-Philip Groblers music often bursts with light and frivolous energy, but this album has a new undertone of dissatisfaction. He has taken his debuts cavernous sounds, and exploded them in an album with sharper melodies, more concise song structures, and more assured vocals. We have not heard a male pop vocalist sing his heart out this way since the 1980s.

The opening track to Matter, Do You Remember?is about as eighties as you can get, with massive, chunky synths and the kind of overwrought snares that make you raise a fist to the sky, and thank God for Yamaha drum machines.

St. Lucias albums are perfectly fine to listen to on their own, but they truly meet their full artistic potential when they are complemented by Groblers energetic jump-kicks and percussions that makes your grinning cheeks vibrate with every beat.

When asked about his current favorite song to perform on stage, Grobler said, Weve been bringing back a lot of our older songs for this next tour, and Ive realized how much I love playing Cold Case, which was a B-Side from When the Night. Its a song that nobody expects us to play, but I feel like the way we play it live is a little closer to how I intended it to be than the version on record is, and it gets really explosive and dreamy towards the end.

He said, Im normally most excited about the most recent idea or song that Im working on at the time. Like I almost always believe that the most recent song that Ive written is the best thing Ive ever written. Maybe its some kind of messiah complex but thats just how I feel. And theres songs that I come back to and Im like woah thats a great song, I forgot about that one and then I have a whole love affair with that song again. So, yeah, Im not gonna answer this question the way that you want me to. I love them all like I love every leaf on a tree.

Grobler said he wanted his most recent release to be too similar to his debut album When the Night.

I didnt want us to get stuck in the categorization that people had put us in which was, and in many ways still is ‘tropical pop’ even though our new record really isnt ‘tropical pop. I never really have a ‘concept’ for an album. A ‘concept’ emerges because all the songs are written in a similar time period where my tastes lean a certain way and Im thinking about and worrying about certain things,” Grobler said.

The tropicaldenotation used also originates from Groblers birthplace in South Africa, when he was originally trying to create a stage name for his music.

I closed my eyes and put a pen down on a map and it landed on St. Lucia in South Africa, and all my childhood memories of going there came up and it just connected the dots of all the music I was making, which was very tropical leaning at the time,” he said.

Grober talked about the benefit he sees for taking songs to unexpected places: I like subverting expectations in my own music, but its not a conscious thing. I just get bored easily and so I like songs to take unexpected twists and turns, like in Love Somebody where you expect it to just be this sparse slow jam but it becomes really lush and even more romantic in the second half. I often wish that I could release songs sooner because then they might seem ‘fresher’ but then there is a great benefit to something seeming like a body of work and being surrounded by its’ brothers’ and sisters.

St Lucia will be performing at College Street Music Hall this upcoming Friday, September 23rd alongside Sofi Tukker and DL is OK. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show itself starts at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and can be purchased through Ticketfly and collegestreetmusichall.com.

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St. Lucia Brings Burst of Eighties’ Energy to New Haven