Rarities discs that cobble together singles, compilation tracks, and live cuts tend to be like photo albums. Here's the musician with embarrassing haircuts, here's the artist uncomfortably dressed up for church, here's the band eating weird fish in Kuala Lumpur. While this kind of scattershot time traveling can be fun for longtime fans, it usually confuses neophytes, who may not understand what all the fuss is about. Happily, the Lucksmiths' new two-CD curios collection serves as an excellent primer on the Australian group's 14-year history and a joyful flushing-out of their back catalog.
Spring a Leak offers live versions of early tracks like "Off with His Cardigan!" and "Danielle Steel," when the trio sounded like a twee version of the Jam. It also collects later tunes, in which drummer Tali White sings softer, like an outback Stuart Murdoch; these songs are less clever but still charming. The covers included on this compendium — of the Magnetic Fields, the Bee Gees, the Modern Lovers, and fellow Aussies the Sugargliders — offer insight into the threesome's sweet, mini-orchestral pop style, while remixes by micro-indie acts like Pipas and Hydroplane bring out the act's lyrical eccentricities. All told, Spring a Leak is the kind of photo, er, record album you'll want to return to repeatedly.