The phrase gestures to the sort of pressures that, a century on, have outrun Anderson's idealism. Golden Teacher's songs are fun, funky, vibrant, but never quite carefree. The joy in their records shines through "despite all"—for example, the stress brought on by work, or the lack of it. Take 2015's "In The Street," where Cassie Oji sang, in Spanish, of having no job, no money, no time. (Oji and two other bandmates met at the Green Door Studio through a course for the unemployed.) On "Sauchiehall Withdrawal," a "pop funk essay" from the band's latest LP, No Luscious Life, things aren't much better: "I'm always working so hard / and for what?"
At 36 minutes, No Luscious Life is a slim collection, but it has a surprisingly healthy range: the Senegal-derived hand-drum slosh of "Diop," the slow-dance sway of "The Kazimier," the erotic laser funk of "Spiritron." Golden Teacher are often compared with bands from New York's '80s downtown scene, and on tracks such as "Sauchiehall Withdrawal" that rings true. But several others on the LP show Golden Teacher aren't that easily filed next to Liquid Liquid or ESG. The title track's orchestral strokes bring a textural depth rarely heard in those bands' records. On hearing the spring-loaded drums and slicing harmonicas of "What Fresh Hell Is This?," you might imagine Lindstrøm and Bruce Haack spinning in a blender.
Of the seven tracks here, four have vocals, an underappreciated part of the Golden Teacher toolkit. "Spiritron" has a wonderfully unhinged turn from Charles Lavenac, whose lustful chat—"Eros and Adonis / are on a spaceship / yeah? / destination unknown-ah!"—seems aroused as much by speed as a romantic prospect. On "Shatter (Version)," a dubby rework of a track from 2015's Sauchiehall Enthrall, Oji's patois is pure venom. Her vocal on "The Kazimier," by contrast, has a mournful, almost lullaby-like quality. The LP swings easily from one mood to the next.
In November, Golden Teacher uploaded an NTS mix comprised entirely of music made by the band's six members and their multiple side projects. With odd takes on UK funky and dancehall (Ollie + Rich), soul (N.E.E.T.), hip-hop (Ome Sa) and post-punk (Ultimate Thrush), it was impressively diverse, and reflected the band's anything-goes approach. No Luscious Life, though, is greater than the sum of these various parts. The band's mix of disco, funk, new wave, dancehall and West African music would in most hands sound muddled or derivative. What happens instead is music filled with life and imagination of the kind described by Stuart Evans, the cofounder of the Green Door Studio, who once likened Golden Teacher to seeing "a robot dancing with a leopard."