Austin singer-songwriter Walker Lukens goes a little more classic than weird on new single
One of our favorite shows at South by Southwest was by Walker Lukens and his band, a theatrical group with enough irreverence to verify it's still a local rock show. On April 18, Lukens released a new single, "The One Who Loves You," that veers toward the earnest without fully stepping away from the quasi-dramaturgic songwriting that makes his catalog fresh and fun.
The new track serves as a first look into Lukens' solo album, Accessible Beauty, which shows as much in the single's cover art, a scrubby Texas landscape that could be an hour or two west of the singer-songwriter's home base of Austin.
This will be Luken's fourth original studio album by a press release's count, although several more records exist on streaming services. Standouts include 2017's experimental fever dream Tell It to the Judge (including doo-wop harmonies, beatboxing, and a probable admiration of '90s alternative heros Cake); the very funky 2019 follow-up Adult, which kicked off the artist's touring career; and 2020's gentle, spacious, and referential Red Headed Strangers.
"The One Who Loves You" sticks to Lukens' "retro" sensibility, with less of a weird twist than many past efforts. A synth pop track, basically, it rests into long-held synths, a slow, thrumming bass line, and spacey vocals, before flipping into something jarringly jazzy and smooth. The declaratory lyrics ("I'm the one who loves you, darling / And I can't turn back now") deliver an almost pedestrian sentiment with perfect and dramatic earnestness — in the true spirit of the '80s rock that it calls back to.
"With 'The One Who Loves You’, it’s the same guy from 'Baby' one week later,” said Walker Lukens in the release, referencing a former single, his second most-streamed track on Spotify. “I wanted to make something romantic and sincere without throwing up in my mouth. The song was very effortless. I wrote the chords and chorus for this song in one sitting at the piano. When I showed it to Alexander Beggins [from the band Wild Child], he had a much different idea for a verse melody than I was expecting. We wrote the words in 10 minutes. It was recorded in half a day.”
"Baby" is surpassed in streams by "Every Night," a sublimely creative, vaguely creepy, and hypnotizing jam that upholds the weirdness to which Austin ideologically clings.
In addition to writing and performing his own music, Lukens co-owns recording studio Paradise Lunch and hosts Song Confessional, a podcast that digs up the stories behind songs. Accessible Beauty is set to release in August, and more information is coming soon on tour dates, a release party, and more.
Listen to "The One Who Loves You" on all streaming platforms.