All Goodluck had to do on their sophomore release was beat their self-titled debut effort – an album which spawned nine radio singles, five #1 chart-toppers and three SAMA nominations. All these happy-go-lucky South Africans had to do was make an even better record – a rather daunting and seemingly difficult task.
Fear not – Goodluck had a solution to this. They decided to take their recording process outside. No, seriously. They took their studio outside to the arid deserts of Namibia. Many aspects of Creatures of the Night were recorded outdoors, especially a lot of the nature sounds, vital vocals and instrumental elements. This recording process added a distinctive African flair to the album.
Goodluck is a hugely talented group of individuals. They sound a lot like what would happen if jazz and electro decided to have a child together. They incorporate a multitude of electro genres into their music while channeling the undisputed sexiness of jazz. Juliet Harding’s husky and sultry vocals only add to the sexiness of this South African electro-swing band.
The title track “Creatures of the Night” transports the listener to another world, and sounds extremely different to anything else that Goodluck has produced before. A unique aspect of this song is how the piano pieces were recorded on an old piano instead of a keyboard and synthesizer. It produces a much cleaner and more beautiful sound than if it had been produced on a synthesizer. If you listen carefully, you can hear numerous nature sounds in the background. This captures the sentiments of protecting the planet from the damaging influence of humans.
“Bodyguard” has a very jazzy feel to its electro-swing sound. Harding’s vocals take on a very husky and sultry quality while she sings about butch boys. The track is a mixture of vintage sounds, rock ‘n roll and jazz elements, and more modern electro sounds. An interesting production note is in the way that Ben Peters produced the delay on Harding’s vocals during the bridge. He took her vocal recordings, which were recorded in an abandoned house, bounced it off the walls of the Fish River Canyon and then recorded the sound that bounced back. This created the massive delay that you hear on the bridge.
“Trickery” sees Peters teaming up with Justin de Nobrega (DJ Naaldekoeker, Toya DeLazy, Die Antwoord) to produce the track. It’s a massive and infectious drum ‘n bass track and it is not surprising that this song has taken the South African radio charts by storm.
“All the Colours” is an easy-going electro-house track, an uplifting song that really gets you into a good mood. Matthew Gold, whom Goodluck signed, takes over the vocal duties for this particular song. It is interesting how the electro pieces on this track sound a lot like things that South African electro-house group Goldfish produce. This is possibly because Dominic Peters of Goldfish is Ben’s older brother.
“Figure of Eight” incorporates an ambient white noise sound that was recorded along the Skeleton Coast. The sound of waves rushing up a pebbled shoreline were recorded and then incorporated into the song. “Figure of Eight” has an incredibly sexy trumpet line to complement Harding’s beautiful vocals. Combined with the easy-going electro sound, it makes you want to raise your head to the sky and dance.
The start of “Lost In Translation” features the sound of a bonfire crackling. According to the band, this adds a human aspect to the song as we don’t always hear perfect rhythms. The song has a very reggae-like feel to it yet it still has a dose of electro injected as well. The message is about having everything yet still questioning everything.
Name another band that features a zebra on one of their songs. Yes, a zebra features on parts of “What Would We Be”. This is alongside the phenomenal Lisa Kekuala (Basement Jaxx). Her vocals combined with the backup singers create a very gospel-sounding song while maintaining its electro-swing quality.
“Universe” is another huge drum and bass track. Matthew Gold appears once again to take over vocal duties. His dreamy vocals just add to the song’s brilliance and match it perfectly. The drum and bass feel is fleshed out by a brilliant trumpet piece. Harding’s voice is ever-so beautiful and husky when performing a duet with Gold on this track.
“Le Good Life” has such a feel-good vibe to it that it is pretty obvious why they chose that title. It is such a catchy tune that gets you on your feet and dancing. The backup vocals are done by 3 Tons of Fun, and they a gospel sound to the song while giving it a distinctively African flair.
“Money Don’t Matter” features Nathan Woodman contributing vocals, and his voice provides a sultry quality to the song. It sounds a lot like a fusion of old-school big-band jazz and modern electro. “The Storm” ends the album off on a brooding and moody note. Harding’s vocals take on a very vulnerable tone which contributes to the song’s brooding nature. This is punctuated by a very housey and uplifting instrumental chorus.
Goodluck’s goal on this album was to produce something better than their previous record. They did precisely that, and have also proved that South Africa has the knack for producing bloody talented artists. Creatures of the Night will have you on your feet and dancing your face off. This is another album that puts a feather in the hat of the South African music scene. Goodluck’s electro-swing sound is bound to take the world by storm and prove that local is lekker. (For those who aren’t Afrikaans, that means that local is brilliant.)