Monday, September 28, 2015

Love At Second Sight: Lush Reunites

It's a good time to be a fan of mid-1990's shoegaze, as all of dreampop's G1, top tier-level bands have made triumphant, feedback-drenched returns. 

The deluge of "old school" bands (the scene that apparently still celebrates itself) started where it should have with My Bloody Valentine releasing their first album in 22 years (2013's mbv) and headlining a bevy of concerts and festivals the world over in support of it. Then came Ride, playing a host of small engagements that eventually snowballed into a full blown tour. This was followed by Slowdive's reunification tour and hints of new studio output. And if that weren't enough, former Creation Records labelmates Swervedriver released a phenomenal return-to-form disc (2015's I Wasn't Born to Lose You) and are (as of this writing) still playing a host of shows in support of it.

(Oh, and The Jesus and Mary Chain - a band largely credited for starting this whole noise-dream music movement in the first place - are touring again. So, there's that.)

But all of that preamble above leads us to this news here: Lush have reunited!

Yep. Nearly 20 years after disbanding, forming other bands, getting married, raising kids, and the whole rigmarole that makes life worth living, Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson and Philip King are dusting of the effects pedals and playing together again. 

Formed in 1987, Lush's gossamer harmonies caught the ear of Ivo Watts-Russell, whose seminal 4AD records label released all of the bands output in the U.K. (Reprise Records handled those duties here in the States). Produced by the like of Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie and Tim Freise-Greene, Lush's first recording garnering the feted "shoegaze" disparagement by a member of the fickle member of the British music press (NME or Melody Maker - take your pick) who, oddly enough, also lauded Lush's mercurial sound. Touring extensively  during the early 1990's, Lush raised their profile with slots in both the Glatsonbury and Lollapalooza music festivals, appearances on late night talk shows and even having one of their songs used in a Volkswagon commercial. Towards the mid 90's, Lush shed their shoegaze leanings and adopted the more dominant Britpop sound (al a Blur, Oasis and Pulp).

Throughout their iterations, however, Lush's lyrical focus remained trained on messy matters of the heart. While songs such as "Sweetness and Light," "De-luxe" and "Love At First Sight" explored the ecstatic (if uncertain and sometimes temperamental) moments brought about by love, "Ladykillers," "Hypocrite" or "The Childcatcher" explored love's aftermath with equal parts vitriol and venom. Riot grrrls though they may not necessarily had been (especially given that one half of the band was comprised of dudes), the themes of love, loss and re-assertion of one's sense of being (at times in it's most entertainingly vindictive, as with the song "Ciao!," which finds Berenyi and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker trading post-relationship barbs) illustrated that Lush's female leads had no time or patience for boyhood bullshit. 

Sadly, in 1996, drummer Chris Acland took his own life. Devastated, Berenyi, Anderson and King decided to disband. And that was that.

Or it was until yesterday, when, after hints left by both Anderson and King on each of their Twitter accounts, gave way to a full blown announcement the band's speculative fans saw coming a mile away: Lush have reunited. With a gig slated for London's Roundhouse on May 6th (featuring Elastica's Justin Welsh handling drumming duties), Lush with embark on series of concerts slated for 2016.

This reunion coincides with a raft of reissues. 4AD plans to release Caio!: The Best of Lush on vinyl, Chorus,  a five-disc box set which include the band's early singles compilation, Gala, the three studio albums (Spooky, Split and Lovelife), and the B-sides and rarities compilation, Topolino. Whew!

Nearly twenty years from the time they disbanded, Lush have returned to give a weary world so sorely in need of tough love floating over dreamy melodies exactly what it needs. Thank gawd for that.

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