Release Date: Apr 15, 2016
Record label: Edamame
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Noise Pop, Shoegaze
When Lush disbanded in 1997 after drummer Chris Acland's tragic suicide, it was assumed that a reunion would be impossible, especially with Miki Berenyi out of music since then. However, now with the three surviving members (Berenyi, Emma Anderson, and Phil King) joined by Elastica drummer Justin Welch, they accepted offers to play live shows again later in the year. Unlike some other reunited shoegaze-era bands so far content to rest on their laurels and tour off of decades-old material, Lush came back first with this new EP.
Having something you loved return after a long time away can be a frightening thing. Whether it’s running into that high school ex-boyfriend you never quite got over or hearing Soundgarden’s King Animal, it can be an odd and emotional process, dealing with feelings left untouched for years. In the past few years, some of the greatest bands of the ’90s have returned to creating music after long hiatuses (hiati?) and the bag has been nothing if not mixed.
In his review of Still in a Dream: A Story of Shoegaze 1988-1995—the recently released 5xCD box set that strives to illuminate/explain the so-called “Scene That Celebrates Itself”—Simon Reynolds describes the experience of hearing Lush’s 1991 single “De-Luxe” as something akin to “being buffeted by flower petals in a wind-tunnel. ” It’s an apt description for a band that, over the course of four full-length albums, managed to strike a delicate balance between shimmery guitar squalls and jangly pop hooks. Though they were often unfairly regarded as sonic lightweights in regards to their peers—perhaps due to their airy vocal harmonies—Lush were always a formidable live act, capable of delivering sweetness and noise in equal measure.
It’s been 20 years since Lush last released new material. They’ve reunited, and their new EP Blind Spot suffers not from a couple decades of rust, but only from its brevity. The four songs here announce Lush’s return, but they’re just a tease. A vital part of the early ‘90s shoegaze scene, Lush didn’t have the noise and force of some their peers, but they had a hookier sensibility.
Resetting their sound to before they became a snarky, snappy Brit-pop band on Lovelife, the EP has a gauzy murkiness, as if the ghost of Robin Guthrie were hovering nearby giving pointers, though actually it's Ladytron's Daniel Hunt in the producer's chair. Berenyi's reliably pretty vocals are covered in reverb, the guitars strum and chime in layers of FX'd noise, and new drummer Justin Welch, of Elastica fame, holds it all together in solid fashion. Hunt adds programming and keyboards, as well as some guitar and treatments.
Sometimes it takes a while to understand why you should fall in love with a band and why they’re important. For Lush, despite the critical acclaim they received in the 90s, they weren’t granted the same level of seriousness as their peers. However, after last year’s exhaustive boxset Chorus, Lush have undergone a reappraisal, focussed on the music, rather than the fact that they liked a beer.