The Washington Post

St. Lucia album review: ‘When the Night’

Jean-Philip Grobler’s St. Lucia sounds will take you back to the 1980s from a sonic perspective, mixing keyboards and retro beats into cleverly crafted melodies. (Shervin Lainez)
“When the Night”

Kindred spirits: The Human League,
Phil Collins

Show: Tuesday at the Black Cat. Doors open at 8 p.m. 202-667-4490. Show is sold out.

The brainchild of South African-born singer-songwriter Jean-Philip Grobler, St. Lucia combines intricate layering characteristic of electronic music with anthemic melodies inspired by ’80s synth pop, creating a dynamically rich sonic serotonin.

Almost every song on St. Lucia’s debut LP, “When the Night,” feels like a hit, distilled to its rawest form and then filled with fuzzy keyboards, angelic vocals (supplied by Grobler and wife Patricia Beranek), endless beats and rolling drum fills. “The Night Comes Again” begins with a subtle, dreamy synth-chord progression that’s quickly thickened by effects and transformed by a driving retro beat vaguely reminiscent of Phil Collins. It’s more of a trance than a well-made song and the lyrics may be simple (a six-line ode to the invincibility of the night), but the result is no less affecting than more traditionally structured tracks such as “Wait for Love.”

Throughout the album, Grobler playfully conjures ghosts from the ’80s: The rhythmic keyboard phrasing on “Elevate” brings to mind Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” and “Call Me Up” is reminiscent of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.”

With all the nostalgia, St. Lucia could easily feel derivatively bland. But Grobler’s keenly crafted melodies and layered production propel the genre forward rather than wallow in it. The title song, at an expansive seven-plus-minutes, ends the album with an atmospheric flourish that suggests Grobler may have ambitions beyond pop.

Christopher Kompanek



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
It's in the details: Five ways to enhance your kitchen makeover
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Border collies: A 'mouse trap' for geese on the National Mall
Play Videos
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
What you need to know about Planned Parenthood
Play Videos
How to save and spend money at college
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Europe's migrant crisis, explained