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Anniversary

All That Useless Beauty: 20th Anniversary Of Lush's Mad Love
The Quietus , April 2nd, 2010 06:56

Graham Bendel writes a love letter to 90s shoegazers Lush, and in the process wonders if they were better, in fact, than My Bloody Valentine…

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Remember that saying about the ‘tree falling in the forest’, and how if no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound? While many lesser bands have their unconditional place in the hearts and minds of the ‘serious’ critical rock community, Lush are often viewed as an interesting footnote to Britpop or an ornate question mark to the genre known as ‘Shoegazing’. They're often deemed unworthy of serious discussion, repeatedly sidelined for commentaries on Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Echobelly, Elastica – anyone, in fact, but them.

Perhaps you’ve only heard their bid-for-the-charts album before they broke up, and decided it was too saccharine for your particular cup of tea. Possibly you’ve noticed the pretty boy, pretty girl coupling that made them seem almost manufactured, and looked no further.

Bassist Phil King (ex-Felt & currently in the Jesus & Mary Chain) agrees that the tide seems to be turning and cites the 20-year rule: that sometimes it takes that long for people to realise something’s true worth. Miki Berenyi (her of trademark postbox-red hair, and Japanese/Hungarian origins) thinks she’ll be dead before someone says something nice about Lush.

So, I’m going to say something nice.

My point is this: not doubting that My Bloody Valentine are as seminal as is often said, the musical legacy of Lush – in my opinion - should be set in similar stone to that of Kevin Shield’s lot. As controversial as that is, Lush, I think, match My Bloody Valentine in terms of sheer power, sublime pop ingenuity and sonic emotiveness. I tread carefully. But I make this supposition based on the evidence of about twenty or so epic and spellbinding gems scattered about their short career. Scrutinise both groups for signs of creative prodigiousness, and I’m not so sure you’d pick My Bloody Valentine as the obvious shoo-ins. I’m thinking outstanding highlights from Lush’s two 4AD albums, Spooky (1992) and Split (1994). Or those earlier mesmerising EPs with superlative, shiver-down-your-spine productions crafted by Tim Friese-Greene or The Cocteau Twin’s Robin Guthrie. Jeff Buckley, I’m informed, loved ‘Scar’ especially.

Some may still think it perverse to position Lush near to the hard-earned status of My Bloody Valentine. That’s sacrilege, right? But only if one, unreservedly, subscribes to their canonisation. I’m not sure I do. The musical DNA of their tracks, however morphed by layers of sonic drudgery, remains to me, in essence, still very ‘indie workaday’ and not as ‘transporting’ as the legend implies. Alan McGee might agree. His reasons for believing MBV are ‘overvalued’ are very much based, one would imagine, on Kevin Shield’s near-bankrupting of Creation Records (through the recording of Loveless). McGee believes My Bloody Valentine have hoodwinked people into confusing ‘genius’ with the ‘using of an unfeasibly large PA system’. But I digress, and certainly wouldn’t undermine Lush by denigrating MBV to that degree. MBV are unique and impressive, no questions asked. The comparisons are welcome.

Pertinently, however, Kevin Shields has questioned the unfair demise of Lush’s reputation himself. And has even acknowledged that Lush have more or less been forgotten about - or, in his words, "have just unfairly disappeared".

Lush’s Spooky album is a bona fide masterpiece. Though, if pushed, I’d go so far as to say much of their catalogue is as striking to me as works created by Nyman, Mogwai, Holst or ‘whoever I can cite to annoy you into listening to them’ – purely in terms of achieving an overall sound that is heartrending, spiritual, not-of-this world. Their early EPs (Scar in particular) are exceptional. Those submerged girl-next-door vocals drowned in delirious swirls of ethereal, narcotic guitar are devastating, the dissonant arrangements. Breathtaking. If My Bloody Valentine’s experimental but calculated aural sculptures are Jackson Pollock or Damien Hirst, then Lush’s vulnerable, dreamy soundscapes are Marc Chagall or one of Klimt’s intangible and overpowering kisses. You’re getting the picture?

Many of their songs are as mournful and plaintive as the saddest blues song you could care to think of, but all the more disarming because of the modern, progressive clothes that they are dressed in. But when stripped of all disguises, the beast we are dealing with, yet again, is that most fundamental of all things: the fragile human condition (courtesy of some honest, heartfelt lyricism from Anderson and Berenyi). These are symphonies for the soul. Referring to their deceptive lightness of touch, Janes’ Addiction’s Perry Farrell described their sound as "music to soothe the savage beast". Others just say it moves them to tears. Accusations of being lightweight or twee are exploded by 'Superblast!' (from Spooky) and ‘Blackout’ (from Split), two interstellar power-pop anthems, with waves of razor-sharp guitar and visceral basslines that drive as hard and fast as Lewis Hamilton with a nose full of Mephedrone.

Their cover versions (and the response to them) are another piece of evidence of their incredulous credibility. Aside from their covering The Rubinoo’s 'I Wanna Be your Boyfriend' (which, strangely, was mentioned in an Avril Lavigne court case), Lush have paid homage to the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, Zoundz, Wire and Vashti Bunyan.

Phil King (their resident musical polymath) reveals that on hearing their version of ‘Outdoor Miner’, Wire’s Colin Newman stated that it "was the best cover of a Wire song that he had ever heard." He goes on to say: "Vashti Bunyan [the cult 60s troubadour] was fairly surprised that someone had even taken an interest in her work, and commented that it was the first time she had ever made any money from one of her songs." If that wasn’t enough King points out that the esteemed writer Greil Marcus preferred their version of ‘All This Useless Beauty’, originally penned by Elvis Costello. To quote the Professor himself: "No pose, no preening. What they do with the song makes Costello seem like an actor…as hard, as resistant, as betrayed as anything in ‘Anarchy in the UK’." It’s high praise, indeed.

Dig deeper, wading through old flyers and tickets, and you’ll find that Lush have been hosts to support slots from the likes of The Flaming Lips, Weezer, Pulp and Blur, giving one the correct impression that Lush, for a long while, were absolutely scorching hot. Then there were phone calls from Courtney Love, interest from Steve Albini and the Smiths (notably Elliott and Robert). In 1992, at the behest of Perry Farrell, Lush were awarded a main-stage slot on the prestigious Lollapalooza tour, and they played alongside Ministry and Pearl Jam, to name just a few. (At one point, Bill Rieflin – Ministry’s drummer, now in REM – broke his fingers stage-diving during a Lush set before later ending up ‘temporarily’ joining the band.)

And did I even mention about how director Michel Gondry, Led Zep’s John Paul Jones and Ex-Husker Du stalwart Bob Mould all wanted to work with them? It just gets more intriguing as to how such a treasured band could be relegated to rock’s (missing) back pages.

So what happened? Why are they not guaranteed the legacy that they surely deserve?

A Guardian interview from 1996 refers to them as "ligging wasters", and possibly the knives were out for them as soon as the guitar pedals and anonymous cover art took second place to glossy pictures of themselves, high-profile partying and lyrics that some just found disagreeable – especially ones declaring their feminist bearings. Recalling the press perception of Lush, King says: "They did tend to make out that we would turn up to the opening of a crisp packet."

Miki Berenyi counters: "They made up their minds what they thought of us at an editorial meeting early on, and anything we did that confirmed their view was then magnified. Anything that challenged it was ignored."

Some of the carousing probably did undermine the music. Where similar bands (MBV, especially) stayed true to their roots, and were shrouded in mystery and enigma, Lush were maybe seen as being at odds with the other-worldly sensibility of their records. Too ordinary, too real, too needy. Beyond all that, there was the advent of Britpop and it’s usurping of all that preceded it.

But their greatest crime, perhaps, was the scale of their ambition. Emma Anderson (vocals/guitar) reflects: "Throughout our career we were constantly pushed to 'break' America and we did make inroads there. Not a lot of British bands have had that opportunity but the flip-side was that we toured and toured over there. In 1996, we visited the USA three times in close succession and (to the detriment of touring and promoting our records anywhere else) it left us spent mentally and physically. Chris's death happened at the end of that. It was not a good time."

Chris Acland, their drummer, committed suicide in 1996, clinically depressed, and frustrated at the way things were progressing. His death, a tragedy for all concerned, effectively was an abrupt full-stop for Lush, who broke up shortly afterwards (abandoning European tours as a result of Acland’s death).

So have they thought of reforming? Giving it another go? Berenyi says: "Funnily enough, some guy at All Tomorrow’s Parties offered for us to do gigs playing Spooky. We got quite excited, but then he came back to us and said he had listened to the album and realised he never really liked Lush so he’d changed his mind about the gigs. Call me petulant, but that kind of flaky cuntishness puts me off wanting to return to the music business."

Returning again to their version of ‘All This Useless Beauty’ (a song title that is perversely apposite here), the song’s last lines seem to allude to how ‘the tree’ never did fall for them, at least in terms of how they really should be remembered. "If something you missed didn’t exist…is it such a surprise?"

On a positive note, Lush currently have a strong and loyal fanbase, especially in the States; and requests are always being made to use their tracks in films, computer games and television.

To some, they are the best band in the world, and many write to Emma Anderson (recently in the band Sing-Sing) to tell her this. Others just keep listening to the music. (134, 000 views of ‘De Luxe’ on YouTube is quite telling).

Many continue to hear the tree fall, crystal clear.

Lush Top 10

'Superblast', Spooky

'Scarlet', Scar EP

'God's Gift', Black Spring EP

'Laura', Spooky

'Last Night', Love Life

'Undertow - spooky remix version', Split

'Starlust', Split

'Matador', Topolino

'For Love', Spooky

'Etheriel', Scar EP

Grundy le Zimbra
Apr 2, 2010 11:48am

Hey Graham! Nice work. You make a convincing argument. Though I've always thought MBV were overrated so whether that means I would enjoy Lush more or less than that lot is anyone's guess.

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Baby Jebus
Apr 2, 2010 3:58pm

April the first! Brilliant!

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Apr 2, 2010 4:22pm

Love this band. Good show!

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John Doran
Apr 2, 2010 6:40pm

In reply to Baby Jebus:

"Luke! Scrap that Family Cat retrospective we were working on..."

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Pete
Apr 2, 2010 7:06pm

Great, well written piece on a brilliant band.

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Cam
Apr 2, 2010 7:14pm

MBV ('86-'92) > Slowdive > Swervedriver > Lush > Ride > Elastica > Chapterhouse (do people really take Chapterhouse more seriously than they do Lush?)

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Valentina
Apr 2, 2010 7:23pm

Lush are hardly ever mentioned these days, a crime considering how good their music was. Thanks Quietus for a really interesting article.

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Kate
Apr 2, 2010 8:38pm

I'd like to get my hands on that guy from ATP who suggested they reform to do Spooky at a Don't Look Back gig and then told them he'd changed his mind, that's for sure. Flaky cuntishness, indeed.

That picture's probably quite a good illustration of why the music press didn't take them seriously, they look like fun and as if they'd be good to go to the pub with. If they'd stayed in every night and refused to give interviews, maybe they'd have gained the kind of mystique that was apparently necessary for them to be taken seriously...

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F. Leghorn
Apr 2, 2010 11:31pm

In reply to Kate:

I think there's something to this. I recall Lush often being mentioned in the Maker as 'unruly liggers', and while they got a fair share of decent press, in the end it was less than Ride, who were, upon a listen with fresh ears, rather gormless. I always liked Lush quite a bit, couldn't quite love them, but there's no doubt there was some excellent bits mixed in with all of their records. Slowdive was afforded a decent reappraisal a few years back, particularly their last, nearly un-heard, record. Even Moose's 'XYZ' record has been re-mastered and welcomed to certain ears.I think Lush are more than due theirs now. I also always believed that MBV were a bit...dull...at times. I liked the records well enough, but I can't dispute McGee's comment about the 'massive PA' being a boon to their reputation.
For what it's worth, Lush was always the most popular of the 'Scene That Celebrates Itself' here in the States. I think the nods to the Cocteaus helped, along with both ladies being so lovely, as I recall hearing them quite a bit on the 'indie' radio station in Phoenix where I lived. I also saw them on that Lollapalooza tour; the response was very good. If that ATP story is true, than Miki is right. Those agings hipsters are quite cuntish, and should just keep booking Shellac till the end of days.

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Ted
Apr 3, 2010 1:08am

Now for the Adorable retrospective

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Tony
Apr 3, 2010 1:33am

I had no idea that Lush were like this at all. Totally missed out on them. Good band.

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Candy B
Apr 3, 2010 6:15am

Same here. Other than having heard the occasional tracks played on 6 Music, I'm hardly au fait with the Lush back catalogue, however, thanks to Mr.Bendel's captivating appraisal, one now feels impelled to catch up. Considering the band's past traumas, not to mention their lengthy hiatus from performing, it's truly heartening that the remaining members of Lush can still summon the enthusiasm to get back in harness - they surely deserve the opportunity.

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John Doran
Apr 3, 2010 7:05am

Their 4AD anthology (Gala) is all I need and they pissed on their own chips by jumping gracelessly onto the Britpop bandwagon - they ended up sounding like Echobelly for Christ's sake - but their early clutch of recordings is sublime.

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John Doran
Apr 3, 2010 7:14am

In reply to John Doran:

Actually, I'm being unfair. Britpop ruined everything. Not just Lush.

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John Doran
Apr 3, 2010 8:03am

Lush were also much better than Swervedriver. A big, sweaty, graceless mess.

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mister laurie
Apr 3, 2010 10:30am

In reply to John Doran:

tis true, the Lush do enot get their props. Slowdive and Chapterhouse are pretty much devoid of merit. MBV, as we saw last year, really do rule. Ride I was always suspicious of and never got and playing their singles comp, as I was last week were probably the worst of the bunch. Leave Them All Behind excepted. Swervedriver were a cowardly rock band that should have stepped up past the feedback and put that twitchy foot right up there on the monitor like they obviously secretly wanted to.
Lush though were dead exciting, noisy as FUCK, at times even brutal, not (remotely) afraid to be oblique and certainly not afraid to be pop.
And that is a fine place to be.

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fatcatbuzz
Apr 3, 2010 2:46pm

I love this band so much I think I have just about everything they ever put out. They are a sound track to alot different time of my life and I enjoyed this article. For me, bands like Lush, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, His Name Is Alive, Swallow, Mazzy Star and shoegaze, dreamy pop was perfect desert music when I was living in the desert. Lush is up there with bands like The Beatles, Love, The Beach Boys, and The Byrds for me in terms of soundtrack to my life. I now live in South Korea and something tells me they will be apart of my soundtrack living out here.

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fatcatbuzz
Apr 3, 2010 2:48pm

Oh yeah, I forgot Slowdive. Slowdive was another great bands. I would have loved it if Lush or Emma Anderson's music would have went in the direction Slowdive went with Mojave 3.

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fatcatbuzz
Apr 3, 2010 2:50pm

In reply to John Doran:

I actually like the Britpop era and bands like Echobelly, Sleeper, and Elastica. Being from the USA, during that time I was a real outsider being in to that stuff.

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Eric Matthews
Apr 3, 2010 4:02pm

my two favorite Lush songs didn't make your top ten, but what do I know? Hey, great article, but something is missing. I am such a fan of Lush and Miki that I recruited her to be the guest vocalist on my new band's debut album. It's coming out on June 8th here in America (S-Curve) and through EMI globally in the summer. The band is called Seinking Ships and the album - Museum Quality Capture. I didn't see Perry Ferrell or Elvis Costello writing songs for Miki to sing and getting her into the studio. Thanks for the opportunity to plug. And plug I did.

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Damien from Manchester
Apr 3, 2010 6:08pm

Hats off to you Graham. I can't tell you how much this band meant to me as a kid, so great to see them getting their due. It was very sad about Chris and they still had a lot of potential; their last British festival gig (headlining the Guardian tent at 96's Phoenix fest) was brilliant. And god what a rotten story about ATP.

By the way for the uninitiated, Lush's entire back catalogue; albums, EPs, b sides, foreign compilations and such, is available on Spotify.

Great to see God's Gift in the Top 10!

My Top 5:

Thoughtforms version 2
de-luxe
cat's chorus
starlust (for love ep version)
etheriel

x

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Cam
Apr 3, 2010 8:39pm

Pale Saints > Lush

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Von Pip
Apr 3, 2010 8:54pm

Totally nails it, excellent work

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Bill S.
Apr 3, 2010 8:58pm

Great job! It's wonderful to see Lush finally getting the credit they so richly deserve, they're my all-time favorite band. Glad to see that Undertow, my personal favorite, made your list. Please check out my Lush tribute website at www.LightFromADeadStar.org

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Michael Pennington
Apr 4, 2010 12:53am

Great article! I Love Lush!

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big d
Apr 4, 2010 7:05am

the greatest band ever!!!!!

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Brian
Apr 4, 2010 9:43am

The best band of that time, hands down. The Spooky tour was amazing (and LOUD) and i saw them so many times that year in the UK, Europe and the US (Babes In Toyland / Flaming Lips tour), they really nailed it. Should ATP like to reconsider their offer, i'll be on the next flight back to the UK to see it... Songs like "Nothing Natural", "Ocean", "Stray" and "Superblast!" were huge live, and showed a much different side to the band's sound. Still listen to Lush on a regular basis.

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Phil in NorCal
Apr 4, 2010 10:50am

Interesting commentary, Graham. I've always felt that MBV and Lush were very different bands, creating very different musical landscapes. I'd prefer to compare Lush to bands like Echobelly, Sleeper, Slowdive, and maybe even Ned's Atomic Dustbin. MBV reminds me of bands like Spacemen 3 and even Curve (a little) and Swervedriver.
Lush were a fantastic band, and I've always felt that "Split" was their Magnum Opus. To me, it is the highly architectural structure of their music combined with almost Baroque (yup, okay, I said it!) stylings that made them unique. If J.S. Bach, Vivaldi or Telemann had been born in 1970 and composed rock music, I imagine they'd have approximated Lush's sound quite nicely.
There is an almost mathematical linearity to Lush's song structures that makes me wonder if they weren't the earliest exponents of what "Math Rock" might be truly considered.
Comparing Lush's sound to that of Nyman, Mogwai and Gus Holst is a very big statement, but a wonderfully sly one. I think you're correct in pointing out the similarlity of effect on the listener in hearing all of these artists' works. Nyman is a fey
instrumental eccentric, but if you listen to something like "Two Zeds and a Naught" it does conjure up a universe that is, well, Nymanesque (lol)! In that sense, his compositions were a most suitable match of composed incidental songs/scores in pairing with Greenaway's oddball films and the original (Japanese-language) Iron Chef subgalaxy of heroic haute cuisine endeavors.
Mogwai create sonic landscapes, it seems to me, and Holst, of course, preferred ultimately to not create his own universe, but rather to illuminate our own solar system of planets.
Yes, Lush were one of many victims of the hyper-snarky British media machine, but those of us who reside there, or spend time perusing English newspaper and magazine websites, can hardly be surprised. Build them up, and tear them down. In the end, however, what really matters, and lasts, is what comes out of the speakers. A great album in "Spooky" and a masterpiece in "Split." Shoegazing and dreampop married with a ceremonial wall of sound and divine harmonies. Maybe Lush were really more like the Cocteau Twins than we ever quite realized.....

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Phil in NorCal
Apr 4, 2010 11:09am

Mister Laurie opined that "Swervedriver were a cowardly rock band that should have stepped up past the feedback and put that twitchy foot right up there on the monitor like they obviously secretly wanted to."
Laurie, I want to assure you that having not only seen the Swervies in concert, but at the foot of Adam Franklin's monitors, his right foot was perpetually busy tapping one foot-pedal after another, all set long. No chance for placement on the monitor, and thus, his left foot had to remain stationary, firmly planted on the stage floor, or he would have fallen over like a very bad drunk! Seriously though, why do you describe them as "cowardly?" I think "brilliant" would be a more appropriate adjective, unless you're referencing the rather pedestrian "99th Dream" album.
Frankly, Ride, IMHO, were as good as it got, unless you hate distorted walls of guitar sound and metaphysical lyricizing. Isn't that what the best of shoegazer music is about? Would you rather listen to Jarvis Cocker chatting about British gender roles or class distinctions?
I was also struck by your flippant dismissal of Slowdive and Chapterhouse. Is there nothing of value on "Souvlaki" or "Whirlpool" or most of their other albums? Chapterhouse's media-defined crime was to strike out on their own with "Blood Music" by attempting to synthesize shoegazer sound with elements of electronica (like keyboards, lol). I've never been a fan of Slowdive's late career careening into ambient territory, but I still appreciate their sheer pluck in doing so.

So, Laurie, I guess what I'm really asking of you is are you a professional polemicist, or a critic at NME?

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Rich
Apr 4, 2010 5:08pm

In reply to Phil in NorCal:

Is that Eric Matthews of Sub Pop fame on here?

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Jimmy Mac
Apr 4, 2010 5:56pm

"not doubting that My Bloody Valentine are as seminal as is often said". Lush, like Ride, where far better than MBV. In the 80s, the alternative world finally said Sargent Pepper wasn't actually as good as people were being spoon fed. I hope this decade does the same to the reputation of Loveless.

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John Doran
Apr 4, 2010 7:03pm

In reply to Jimmy Mac :

Isn't Anything and the four 12"s (you know which ones I'm talking about) easily outshine Loveless.

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I'll be your mirror
Apr 4, 2010 9:01pm

'(134, 000 views of ‘De Luxe’ on YouTube is quite telling).'

...and it would be alot more if those titheads at WMG didn't keep turning the sound off and on all the time.

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Eric Lauritzen
Apr 4, 2010 11:54pm

Great article! Cheers. MBV - very overated in my opinion, but music is subjective and you cant really compare. I just know that shoegaze is such a big part of my life and I am so happy there are so many brilliant new acts these days. Its like living 92 all over again. Keep up the good work

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Sisanumber
Apr 5, 2010 9:00am

Lush are my #8 Favorite Band Of All Time, and I have the rateyourmusic.com list to prove it.

http://rateyourmusic.com/list/stompboxer/my_100_favorite_music_artists__ranked_with_comments__

And I quote: "Best band to emerge from Britain's early 90s shoegazer scene, Miki Berenyi & Emma Anderson mix the dreamy and the spooky with spectacular results. 'Atmospheric' only begins to describe their depth of swirling guitars and voices."

Yes, BEST band of the shoegazer era and I give a standing ovation to this article giving them their (over)due.

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Apr 5, 2010 9:38am

In reply to Phil in NorCal:

oh I quite like Swervedriver. Saw em play often and I bought some of their CDs just last year. There are fighting tunes on there aplenty. I just think they didnt have the cojones to drop the pedals, amp up the riffs and be the rock band that lurked just below the surface. Ride, Slowdive and the other one, never wrote a proper tune bwtween them (LTAB excepted) and got away with pouting, rambling, and very very vague melodies and washing them all over with polite, user-friendly feedback. Psychedelic, my arse. Play MBV, floyd or hendrix next to 'em and it is all rather embarrassing, I reckon. Would Ride have been deemed almost pop if Mrk G had been a hunchbacked minger? I suspect not.
And as an aside, I like what Neil from Slowdive did much later on.
I am not, nor ever have been, a critic at NME.
So, given your option, I must be a polemicist.
This is my polemic. Let me make it good.

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Beth Forster
Apr 5, 2010 9:39am

In reply to John Doran:

Another day, another Quietus article with its tongue firmly placed betwixt Kevin Shield's butt crack. Whatever next? An article about Sunn O))), how heavy metal is actually good and not just for grown men who still live with their parents? An article convincing people that The Horrors are actually good (no, really!) because their PR team have been doing overtime? Surprise us for once. I reckon the Boo Radley's Everything's Alright Forever is ripe for re-appraisal. Or, if that is indeed Eric Matthews on here, something about his Sub Pop albums from the mid to late 90s. Go on boys!

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mister laurie
Apr 5, 2010 9:42am

In reply to :

oh
almost forgot
"I'd prefer to compare Lush to bands like Echobelly, Sleeper, Slowdive, and maybe even Ned's Atomic Dustbin. "
Not sure I can see any logic whatsoever in this here sentence, Phil. Perhaps you have gone mad. Or are a blogger.

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mister laurie
Apr 5, 2010 9:44am

In reply to John Doran:

and finally
"Isn't Anything and the four 12"s (you know which ones I'm talking about) easily outshine Loveless"

see me later, Doran

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John Doran
Apr 5, 2010 10:53am

In reply to Beth Forster:

The article is critical of the cult of Kevin Shields. I've said a lot of times that I don't really like Loveless and that I think he came across like a bit of a tool at the recent ATP gigs. SunnO))) are my favourite rock band and they released their best album last year and The Horrors did reinvent themselves with panache last year. But if you'd actually been paying attention you'd probably have noticed that the stuff we're most excited about this year includes Wardruna, New Young Pony Club, Lone Lady, Gonja Sufi, The Fall, Walls, Besnard Lakes, These New Puritans, Liars, Blood Of The Black Owl, Rolo Tomassi, Konono No.1, Factory Floor, White Hills, GNOD, Chrome Hoof, Lindstrom and Christabelle, Shining and Easy & Toshybot.
As for the PR thing? Seriously, go and fuck yourself. We could make our lives so much easier by covering all that hyped shit. We could certainly earn a lot more money and get a lot more coverage elsewhere but the truth of the matter is that the really hyped stuff like MGMT, Emmy The Great, Noah and the Whale, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, Rusko, Ellie Goulding, Laura Marling, Everything Everything, Marina and the Diamonds, Two Door Cinema Club, Bombary Bicycle Club and Hurts either gets a rough time on the Quietus or we simply leave it to other people. We've got nothing against PR people and have a good relationship with some of them - given that these are the ones who are in it for the same reasons as us, the promotion of good music. But I think even our favourite PR firms and people would find the suggestion that we're in their pocket pretty funny. I met one of our PR chums out in a bar the other night and she punched me in the stomach for making one of her staff burst into tears and making another too afraid to contact me.
You've spent a lot of time commenting on here. I don't know why you hang out here if you dislike it so much.

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mister laurie
Apr 5, 2010 12:40pm

In reply to John Doran:

yell yer what tho
that new MGMT album is surprisingly good, I think. Wasn't really a fan of them before.
This year for me has been about discovering amazing recoreds by Baroness, Liars, Broken Bells, MGMT, Class Actress, These New Puritans, Delorean, Bear In Heaven, No Age, Aphrodite's Child, that Girl Group Box set in a hat box, Telepathe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, yet more Sparks, and yet more Fall, Richard Hell, Curtis Mayfield, Tom Waits, Gun Club and Stars Of Heaven. Not all of these are new things.

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John Doran
Apr 5, 2010 1:32pm

In reply to mister laurie:

Aphrodite's Child are amazing.

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Pete
Apr 5, 2010 1:49pm

I'd definitely say that it's refreshing that the Quietus doesn't pander to all that crud mentioned (Bombay Bicycle Club, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the machine..) Thank bloody god. But good to see 1)Aphrodite's Child get namechecked 2) Lush getting some good exposure. I'm happy.

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Tony
Apr 5, 2010 3:13pm

RE: Lush's De luxe/ 134,000 views on youtube.

It's gone up to 138,500 plus.

+ it's posted a few more times, carrying another 50,000 views.

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Vaughan
Apr 5, 2010 5:59pm

Great article Graham. Lush were magnificent, as simple as that. P;ease reform!

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Dino
Apr 6, 2010 12:08pm

Starlust is the best, hadn't heard that in so long!!

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Michael
Apr 6, 2010 12:19pm

In reply to Rich :

That is THE Eric Matthews upthread, the maker of some of the most underappreciated music of the 1990s. Great news that he's working on something new.
Here's some of that underappreciated 80s music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLSKfNVbEa8

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Tone Deaf Chas
Apr 7, 2010 2:33am

Two more covers which you don't mention are well worth tracking down. Lush managed the - seemingly impossible - feat of making Middle of the Road's 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' feel genuinely moving on 'Alvin Lives in Leeds', an anti-poll tax compilation. And, for a Peel session, they paid tribute to another two girl-two boy band when they revived the little-known Abba gem 'Hey Hey Helen'.

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Dani
Apr 8, 2010 2:12am

A beautiful band, such a shame they are so overlooked. Great article!

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Christopher McDonnell
Apr 8, 2010 12:38pm

Great article Graham. You've made me very interested in checking out Lush's back catalogue.

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Phil in NorCal
Apr 9, 2010 10:44am

In reply to :

So, Ride, Slowdive, etc. "never wrote a decent tune..." Really? Now I'm really curious as to how you would define "decent tune" but hey, we're clearly of different mindsets. I see a lot of assertions, Mr. Laurie, but precious little in the way of explication (that is meaningful, anyway) or argument, so yes, you're a very fine polemicist. Congratulations!

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Marcel
Apr 19, 2010 2:38am

This group is very special to me. Here in the states at 14 hearing Superblast and then Untogether like it came on the album gives me goosebumps. Miki, your band is made a special moment in my life. Come back. Here in the USA you would sellout stadiums.

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Gnotts
Apr 23, 2010 12:11pm

I can't believe monochrome didn't make the top 10, but it is nice to see such a great band getting the recognition they deserve.

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Enda_c
Apr 24, 2010 8:55pm

I remember an interview w/Lush by NME in 1994 where the band members were insistent that they were all too familiar with sorrow and despair and were expressing this in their music, and the perception of them as happy-go-lucky pissheads was unfair. Subsequently of course the same publication (and others too) treated the bovine thoughts of the Gallagher bros re: cigs and alcohol like they were the missing speeches of Martin Luther King. And they didn't even ask the lads to say a big thank you to Lush for helping make the coast clear for Oasis to allegedly define Britpop. Though they may not have become so stodgy had they recruited from Lush rather than Ride. Hard to imagine that I know

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Koopla
Apr 25, 2010 12:45pm

In reply to mister laurie:

Sir, I believe you are a-waiting the remastered version of Billy-Ray Cyrus's first album. Long may you wait.

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Happi Devil
Apr 27, 2010 3:34pm

"Nothing Natural" Best. Song. Ever.

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Jonathan
May 2, 2010 9:05pm

Brilliant article. I am a massive shoegaze fan and have up to now felt a degree of guilt in prefering the 'easier' shoegaze of Lush to MBV, however your article made me realise that I have nothing to be ashamed about.

I would also point that Miki and Chris were responsible for the only good football ever written - And David Seaman Won't Be Very Happy About That (largely the reason I support Spurs)

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ParsleyRascal(retired)
May 21, 2010 1:50am

An interesting read.
Don't listen to them as much as i did at one point.
Even at the 'height' of their 'fame', i still don't recall them being 'that big', as it were.
I suppose, their highest profile was in the latter-mid 90's, although I personally preferred their music in the early-mid 90's-Split era.
Something i've often heard before, and usually goes with fans from their earlier period.
Even so, at their 'height', they were always a bit drowned out by everyone else at the time, and i was constantly surprised that their music got any airtime, even getting on the shop-radio playlist whilst browsing in some Virgin Megastore...

As someone once said 'Being a fan of Lush is like routing for the underdog...'
I still like Lush's songs more than MBV, i dont think time will change that.
Time hasnt changed which songs i like best of Lush either.
And i still really enjoy their covers, so its nice to hear them mentioned here.
As for being seen all the time - weren't Blur et al seen at the same pubs/events/crisp packet openings as well? They've faired considerably better. I think they had alot more of the right boxes ticked when it came to survivng the British Music Scene.

TBH, I wouldnt want to see them perform again. Its been too long, and its a bit too different without you know who there.
But thats just me.
But maybe i'm just a miserable old fart.

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ParsleyRascal(retired)
May 21, 2010 2:06am

In reply to ParsleyRascal(retired):

i re-read a few comments.
"sounded like EchoBelly!" !?!
lol!! well, i certainly don't think so. I mean, i actually EchoBelly, but they're..erm..shall we say 'cute' ?
i don't mean that in a bad way.
Lush were always alot harsher, harder, for me in comparison to what i remember Echobelly outputting which i always considered 'soft' - and the two bands had never appeared in the same sentence for me.
Several bands at the time would be mentioned in the same sentence though, and they were Breeders, Belly, Veruca Salt and Velocity Girl...

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phil
Jul 22, 2010 9:59pm

In reply to ParsleyRascal(retired):

Very nice article.. I fully agree that they never deserved to be overlooked and treated the way they were. It wasn't even as if they were crazy popular and then people forgot about them. Even at the time few people really paid attention.

They really had four 4AD albums though - both Lovelife and Gala were on 4AD, although admittedly the first - Gala - was a compilation of previously-released material.

Split is almost certainly my favourite album of all time - the songwriting is superb, and the range from thunderous, furious "Hypocrite" to heartbreaking "When I Die".. it's an album I can listen to over and over.

The last one - Lovelife - was indeed very poppy in places. What's interesting is that there's almost another album's worth of material in the Lovelife B-sides, and it's much less commercial than stuff like "Ladykillers" and "Single Girl" (which admittedly did get them on TOTP - truly the measure of pop success for any British kid of my generation). I think I listened to the B-sides more than the album, although it's hard to argue with a campy duet with Jarvis Cocker as a mid-'90s gem.

Of course just like many great bands, live is where they were best appreciated. The gigs were so good - for want of a better term, they rocked really hard, especially when the crowd was up for it. But the "shoegazing" sound for which they were renowned was incredible live also, partly just for the experience, but also for the fact that they were pulling it off, right there on stage - not Robin Guthrie, a giant mixing desk and months of production work, but four talented musicians with guitars and a few pedals.

What's interesting is that people who were hooked seemed to be on the hook for life - testament to this is that I recognise some of the names of commenters here from the various incarnations of Lush mailing lists, sites and so on over the last 15 years.

As for the MBV thing.. I never really listened to any other shoey bands. Not Ride, not Cocteaus, not Slowdive. I saw Mojave 3 (supporting Lush actually).. they left me cold (ha ha). I did like Belly a lot, I guess that's as close as I got.

Oh.. and in reply to the comment above, I love "God Fodder" more than probably most, but I don't think I'd ever compare Lush with the Neds..

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Max
Sep 16, 2010 3:27pm

i think you are leaving somthing big outside of the picture. lushes chord-structure/entery to music. they work very much with the tenision you get when you play certain chords toghether. Im not a musician so i dont know whats this is called, but for instance cold play nor my bloody valentine uses this type of structure - i dont like coold play, nor is it shoegaze - i just want to make a point, and the point is that this kind of music differs very much from the kind of "tense" music (you would call it in sweedish) that lush plays. the point is certain music is just not likable by all, and i dont see this as a bad thing

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eyeresist
Nov 11, 2010 6:39am

It's great to read this article. But I can't believe your Top 10 includes Matador (instrumental, written by the bassist, kinda crap) but excludes the crushing splendour of Ocean! Anyway...
I've been getting back into the music I listened to in the early 1990s, and I find Lush are really the only act who've lasted in terms of musical values. I say this as someone who's spent the last 10 years listening mostly to classical music. Not to mention I've reached the age where I get nothing from "cool" or "weird" lyrics - thankfully, Lush were always lyrically very clear and emotionally powerful.
BTW, John Doran is correct that Loveless is way overrated, also overproduced, overcompressed, and basically a pain to sit through. The other records were indeed better.

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Cheung
Dec 11, 2010 9:52pm

I'm a Lush fan in Hong Kong. I started to listen to them since 1996, there was not easy to know foreign indie music in HK. Now I'm 28 and Lush are still my No.1 favourite band. It's just little people know them here, so I'm glad that I met another HK Lush fan a few years before.

I'd say "Split" is the best for me, it has many great songs such as "Light From A Dead Star", "When I Die", "Never-Never" etc.

Anyway thank you for this moving article! Lush are really underrated and deserved to have more attention.

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Grondo
Jan 17, 2011 9:46pm

Well said!-

MBV doesn't have to suck for Lush to shine, though. We need both.

MBV gets into my subconcious and takes me to a place beyond rationality or thought. Lush goes straight for the heart, but does it sneakily, the way Ravel's music gets in there without one's noticing until it's firmly in possession.

Or something like that.

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Peter
Jun 4, 2011 1:58am

Great article Graham. Funny timing as I was just listening to Lush this morning on my commute thinking to work about how great they are/were and how probably no one now remembers them except a select few. I would add Astronaut to your list of best songs - simply stunning. Would love to see a reunion with another drummer and based on some of the bands reforming these days - who knows??? Could we be so lucky? Thanks again.

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Dan
Jul 8, 2011 12:22am

In reply to John Doran:

Totally agree with you.
Scar, Mad Love and a few of the tunes that followed were absolutely fantastic ... some of the best songs ever made.
Lush were also a fantastic band to see live. Always good fun.
They did indeed trail off towards the end for me. But they are still my faves.
My top 7:
De-luxe, Scarlet, Thoughtforms, Lit-up, Covert, Ocean, Downer

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Dan
Jul 8, 2011 12:36am

In reply to Dan:

oh, i forgot "etheriel" which is of course magic, too.

having read many other comments it made me think that some of the songs were so fantastic live, but were perhaps over-produced on record. i loved "scar" and "mad love" and then saw them live and was blown away by tunes such as "ocean" and "tiny smiles" but was then just a wee bit dissapointed with the way they sounded on record. still, no band was as big as lush for me as a kid ... very very special and indeed underrated.
mbv: great band too. and just had more of the trend and cool factor going for them. their sound was more like a nice meal that noone quite knew the recipe to.

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Christopher
Dec 20, 2011 11:30pm

FINALLY! Thank you for this oasis in a desert of b.s. Lush has been a favourite of mine since I first heard "Thoughtform" will flipping through the stations one night in 1991. I often imagine how tragic it might've been had I not had this chance encounter with an absolutely brilliant band. I was actually moved to tears upon hearing this song. I called the radio station to learn exactly whom it was that I was listening to! I agree,no point in denegrating MBV but, the way Lush was treated was abominable. They deserve SO much more. As I was playing in a variety of thrash bands in the early '90's, I took a lot of crap from friends/bandmates, etc. Until I convinced them to just give 'em a chance...They all love them now. Lush...Practically the soundtrack to the '90's. Thanks for this extremely well written and informative reveiw.

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Christopher
Dec 20, 2011 11:39pm

P.S; On second thought, MBV is rather boring...However relevant they may or, may not be...Lush is a unique experience to hear a sound unlike any other. They defy classification. Thanks, Graham.

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Ladykiller
Dec 27, 2011 10:36am

Damn you, ATP. We want a Lush reunion!

Coachella?

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Nick
Jan 2, 2012 1:39pm

Stellar feature. The world needs the return of Lush. And yes, they were better than My Bloody Valentine.

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Tom
Feb 13, 2012 10:13am

Lush were pretty awesome. I wasn't able to see them in video or on the news or whatever so i could only judge them by what i heard of their music. It was quite awesome. Even the popish ones often had hidden depths or interesting twists that were probably too complex for most critics or mainstreamers. Possibly they were too thought provoking for the mainstream press.
Regards from
Tom :)

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Chris
Feb 24, 2012 4:31am

In reply to Tom:

Thank You so much for this. I was a devout Lush fan going back to about '91, but admittedly had almost forgotten about them. Then about a month ago, I was watching Deerhunter on youtube ("Desire Lines") and of course a link to the Lush song popped up. I hadnt heard it in years. Stayed up all night listening to their CDs that I had to literally dust off. I think I love them even more now than I did then - which I suppose is saying something, since I got fired from my job so I could see them @ Lolla '92. It was worth it.

Hate to hear them sound at all bitter - here's hoping one of the festival promoters finds a spot for them. If so, I WILL be there. Would be a great present for my 40th.

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Don L.
Mar 6, 2012 6:30am

I loved MBV and Lush. Still listen to them quite a bit. Had a mad crush on Miki and Emma, ha ha. Love watching my old boots of shows. Miki was a quick wit. Alas, I missed out seeing them live.I never bothered comparing them with MBV, and the only thing they have I think you can use to compare is because of the soundscapey sound Lush would have on some tracks, but then you can bring up the Cocteau's, like critics do anyway. They weren't always like that and they had gorgeous melodies in those simple chords and I could get lost looking at Miki's equally gorgeous eyes for a week.Looking back, I don't really consider MBV a shoegaze band anyway, far far too in your face where shoegaze tends to be spacey ,drifty, and heavy use of flange effects. Mbv never had flange or the choral sounds like the shoegazaers. Although, I thought these bands were trying to replicate MBv's sound and they inadvertantly came up with something of their own. For better or worse.

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John
Mar 20, 2012 6:07pm

I recently discovered Lush in the last week or so. I do remember hearing them on radio in the early 90's. I really liked their sound and planned on getting Spooky which was getting good reviews but I never got around to it. Last week on Itunes I saw a Shoegaze Essentials so I checked it out and saw a Lush song. I listened to For Love and loved it and planned on downloading one more of their songs. Well I started listening to all of their samples and I couldn't find a bad song. I'm in the process of getting all of their stuff now. How were they overlooked? Their songs are so unique and powerful. The vocals are beautiful. Some songs are dreamy and then other songs just kick ass. Starlust, the version on Split, has to be the most exciting song ever. It's a crime that their music is not more well known. I hope somehow, someday they can make music again.

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B
Mar 26, 2012 3:16pm

Alongside Failure, Lush is my all time favorite band. Been listening to them since 1992. I was only 6 years old in 1992. My sister would play Lush regularly and I started listening to it more and more and loved it. They have stuck with me ever since. Really wish I could have seen them live but I was too young to see shows the one time they played Sacramento, CA. Hopefully a reunion tour does come to fruition one day. It really sucks that they never "blew up" but the majority of the masses tend to like shitty music so it is what it is. Miki has always been and always will be a goddess to me. Her husband is a lucky, luck man.

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gerald
May 14, 2012 5:34am

steve albini? really?
i highly doubt that

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Useless Booty
Jun 30, 2012 4:05pm

I just read in an Emma interview that Coachella treated them shitty too

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Grondo
Aug 7, 2012 6:57pm

In reply to Eric Matthews:

Eric Matthews - certainly no slouch himself.

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Jessica
Dec 13, 2012 8:40pm

Love Miki and Lush, stopped reading this piece when you mentioned"... Jackson Pollock or Damien Hirst...", evidenced a trite ignorance and simplicity and leveling down.

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Tim Anderson
Jan 11, 2013 5:25pm

So happy you wrote this. I really can't understand the complete and utter dismissal of this band. I found them in the Gala days through 120 Minutes and thought that compilation was effortlessly brilliant. "Sweetness and Light," "Deluxe," "Second Sight," "Etherial" (so named because their ex-bandmate Merial had apparently become subsumed by her boyfriend Ethan)--spiky, beautiful, absolutely lush. They were also hilarious in interviews and onstage. I saw them with Ride in Chapel Hill and they had technical difficulties at one point, so Miki just asked if anyone had any good jokes, then welcomed volunteers onstage to tell them.

Spooky was grand, too, though a little plodding in parts--I think it would have been a certifiable classic if it had been two songs shorter (Tiny Smiles and Covert are b-side quality, IMHO, though Covert was quite nice live) and if Guthrie had pulled back a little on the production to let the songs breathe. Though overall I thought Lovelife was pretty weak, I always thought it would be a transitional album and that their next one would see them arriving at some place awesome--especially seeing as how great some of the b-sides from that time were--"Ex," "Dear Me," and "Piledriver" (written by Chris Acland) in particular. Sadly it wasn't to be.

I can has Lush reissues now?

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Muppet
Jan 17, 2013 12:05pm

I'm on record saying Lush is the best band to come out of the UK, since the Stones "Exile on Main St" days! And I stand by it with authority, (better band than the Smiths, Charlatans, Stone Roses, Roxy Music - all fantastic bands)! Seen 100s of bands come and go, yet Lush's sound still as durable as ever! Genius is Spooky and previous releases!

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Dan Curran
May 13, 2013 12:14am

I may have seen them by accident in the 90's. Recently discovered the full catalog of their material, very goos stuff. Wish i could claim I saw them live.

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CageyPea
Aug 14, 2013 9:04pm

Always good to see some other flare appear from the torch kept burning by we who lived and loved Lush in their time of being. What grabbed me then, and what so many of their undeservedly over-praised peers lacked, was the incredibly solid SONGWRITING of Anderson and Berenyi. Beneath the sonics and volume and Manic Panic red hair dye and glamour and the tabloid scene-making were fundamentally strong, non-clichéd, through-and-through well composed songs. Cases-in-point: "De-Luxe"; "Half and Half"; "When I Die"; "Starlust" (BTW, the Spooky-era b-side (on the 'For Love' EP) is the superior version); "Sweetness and Light"; "For Love"; "White Wood"; "Lovelife" (the song) . . . etc. etc.
P.S. I put my heart in a bottle and addressed it to Emma and threw it in the Atlantic Ocean; don't know if she ever got it.

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Duane
Sep 27, 2013 12:43am

If you were to ask me who the best band of the 90's was, to me it's LUSH. It's a shame their CD's have not been remastered. I think it would benefit them with today's remastering capabilities.
LUSH's albums were all great, but Live they were stunning. The first time I saw them for SPOOKY @ Slim's in San Francisco, from the first song I thought wow, they sound even better live, just as I'm thinking that, my friend John Evenhuis yells out to me "I can't believe how much better they sound Live. So it wasn't my imagination. I saw them 2 more times at the Fillmore in San Francisco for Split and Lovelife. I missed the Gala show because I was moving back to LA, and they played in S.F. the day I left. Since they had just played in LA 2 days before, seeing them in LA wasn't possible. But their sound was absolutely stunning Live. You cannot tell this from watching live videos, it's just not the same. But believe me, their sound was stunning live. But I am praying for Miki and Emma and Phil, to get another drummer and play again. Miki and Emma's kids must be grown by now, so I have high hopes for a reformation. I know Phil King keeps trying but the Girls seem to be the problem.

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Blake
Aug 14, 2014 3:23pm

Great article about a criminally underrated band that I've only just discovered in 2014, since I've been big on Slowdive, MBV and Ride in the past few years, and had heard that Lush was similar. Many of the B-sides on their singles were just as good as the album tracks. None of my favorite tracks of theirs made your top 10, though; I would have included Desire Lines, Never Never, Outside World, Kiss Chase, and I Have the Moon.

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