Racking Up Plays: “Closer Than This” by St. Lucia

St. Lucia's Jean-Philip Grobler (via Facebook)

These are the posts where I gush about some song that I’ve got a huge crush on at the moment, and you put up with it and listen because you’re a good friend.

“Closer Than This,” St. Lucia

A lot of the ’80s-inspired music out there—and there is a lot out there—annoys me. I have a tough time pinpointing exactly why. After all, the ’80s provided the soundtrack of my youth. There are plenty of ’80s songs that I still enjoy and listen to regularly. But when some modern-day bedroom-pop whiz fires up his synthesizer and sets it to “Wham,” my gut reaction is an eye roll. Maybe it’s because ’80s nostalgia comes so easy—a lot easier than, say, ’90s nostalgia—to most people. (Just try throwing both an ’80s party and a ’90s party, and note how much more fun people have with outfits for the former.) Or maybe it’s just because a lot of these musicians, frankly, just aren’t as good at crafting pop hooks as the hit-makers of the ’80s.

And maybe that’s why the clearly-’80s-inspired tune “Closer Than This” by St. Lucia doesn’t annoy me. First of all, the guy behind the Brooklyn band, South Africa native Jean-Philip Grobler, has managed to craft something that reaches the same blissful, synthpop heights as the best of Erasure and OMD. Second of all, he does it without any sort of ironic wink to say, “Hey, wasn’t this decade kooky and cheesy?”

It’s impossible to describe “Closer Than This” without using the word “soaring.” The chorus is rich with harmonies, as Grobler’s voice blends with girlfriend Patricia Beranek’s and they sing, “I can’t imagine there’s a way to get closer than this.” Frankly, it’s hard not to imagine it playing over the end credits to some John Hughes movie, as a pair of mismatched teens walk off into the sunset, hand in hand.

A hat tip goes to Marc Hawthorne of the A.V. Club for hipping me to this song. He reports that St. Lucia currently has a six-song EP out on Neon Gold Records—the first time the boutique label has produced anything longer than a 7-inch single—with a full-length album due later this year. You can stream the whole EP at SoundCloud.

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