Oct. 31 2012 03:36 PM

On new EP, duo sounds heartbroken yet hopeful

Run Luca
Photo by Shannon Bullock

Run Luca Run Luca (self-released) 

Indie-pop duo Run Luca sounds so beautiful it hurts. On their recently released debut EP, every song moves at a creeping pace. With their cavernous guitars, lullaby-like synths and freefloating drum-machine beats, they walk a fragile line between hope and heartbreak.

Holding it all together is the remarkable voice of songwriter Rachel Chesney. Sometimes she's airy and vulnerable, a teardrop away from cracking. Other times she's confident and sultry. In the brooding electro ballad "Jasper," she sounds like an old blues singer, delivering a solo with a breathtaking flourish: "I know you belong You belong with me."

Chesney and band-mate Jay Welch have been playing together for only eight months, and it's impressive that they've already crafted a distinct sound, with equal parts warm dream-pop and sentimental R&B. They show their versatility on two versions of their melancholy torch song "Love We're After": One resembles something by Beach House, the other's more along the lines of Ryan Adams, but both are exquisite.

Occasionally, Run Luca sounds too dreamy. Though Chesney is a great stylist (indeed, she works as a professional vocal coach), she doesn't always enunciate, making the lyrics hard to understand. If her delivery were just a tiny bit sharper, the songs might have more emotional impact.

Still, it's a powerful debut from a promising new band. Alas, Chesney says the duo's moving to New York City in January. But it's not too late to claim them as our own.

Run Luca plays at Tin Can Ale House on Thursday, Nov. 1, and at Soda Bar on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Email peterh@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.


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