FuckedUpFestiveFifty #40: Lush
#40: Lush – Superblast! (1992)
It’s all about a certain standing, something from the wink of an eye, perhaps. Sounds that resonate against specific backdrops – that element that confirms you were there; that night in nineteen eighty-whatever, or ninety-whatever, or two-thousand and x (it’s your memory – you choose) when the record you were listening to grabbed so hard, spinning out against the hot, dusty twilight with all the trappings of soundtrack.
I got drunk to this. Danced to this. Smoked an illicit cigarette whilst a girl might have smiled (a smile I maintain to this day was aimed in my precise direction). And whilst it’s all so long ago, and by rights shouldn’t need to matter, that resonance can’t help but pulse so brightly – Lush hit the stereo speakers with such panache, and their first EPs, their first two albums (mini-album Scar; full length début Spooky) remain constant companions.
There are of course two easy but utterly valid swipes to be aimed at the Lush back-cat. Exhibit A – the shoegaze template deployed several years after development, 4AD inflexions streamed through a somewhat predictable production technique; Exhibit B – the mid-season lunge towards the populist Britpop sound, the embrace of melodic pop that I’ve seen described as a volte-face, or at worst: blatantly careerist. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a problem with either argument. An issue of lustre, perhaps. Tarnishing.
And yet whatever you think of the band in their mid-nineties guise (myself: not a great deal, although the melodic attention was traceable even in their most blissed-out or dissonant recordings), what works within their early records is the adaptation of that shoegaze template. Songs doused in a particular brand of confident feminine energy that doesn’t entirely reject its coquettish side. A grinding rhythm section that sounds totally at ease within its momentum-inducing confines. Vocals that, like certain strands of chilli, disguise their kick until its all too late.
‘Superblast!’ is one of those tracks first on the list when it came to jotting down these Festive Fifty entries. The whole of parent album Spooky is a delight – the type of record with deceptively hidden depths – but for me it’s always been this song that flashes with evocation. For playing loudly.
Lush / Superblast!