Scar for life i
Lush’s first album in January should catapult them into the first rank of indie groups. Already. they have released an album‘s worth of thrilling songs. Butdothey all I sound the same? asks Fiona Shepherd.
The same. but different. that‘s that Lush ! sensation. A Lush record is a comforting reaffirmation ofpop standards. a realisation that music with 101 reference points can be worth more 1 than a cursory game ofSpot The Influence. Lush have digested the definitive pop manual and know ‘ that the main lesson to be learned is that great pop songs are immediately palatable but naggineg tenacious. And they have listened to a lot of Abba records. I
But a Lush record sounds like a Lush record. Yes. there's the stylistic embellishment endemic to most of their indie contemporaries. all those bands who own too many Cocteau Twins records: ﬂoaty vocals hidden in a miasma ofechoey. insistent jangling guitars. you know the sort ofthing. But there's some sort of twist to Lush‘s songs, be it melody. tempo or rhythm that. without getting too visceral (because visceral they are not). fractures the mood. Take ‘De-Luxe' off their Mad Love EP. a tune that coils itself round out-of-kilter guitars. ! just about the most swirly epic gorgeous song of last year. So. the same. but different.
The same epithet could be applied to the Lush canon in isolation. They’re all different songs but they all sound. erm. the same. Time to draft in the guilty party. guitarist Emma Anderson. for some ruthless cross-examination. However, Emma seems determined to exercise the songwriter’s prerogative to remain tight-lipped about her craft. 1 to either refuse or be incapable ofself-analysis. Or 9 maybe she‘s just being awkward. The admission that she‘s a slow writer is about as close to a major ' technical revelation as she gets. Otherwise. she takes the tried and tested escape route of the reluctant interviewee: ‘It‘s really difficult to talk about our music in that way.‘ 1
While I stifle a roar of frustration at this pleading of the Fifth Amendment. she ploughs on: ‘I think there are some songs on Scar [their debut mini-LP] which obviously we have departed from quite considerably. like ‘Bitter‘ or ‘Second Sight’. We don't really write songs like that anymore. but I can‘t really sit here and say "Oh. I don‘t really experiment with different chords.” because. as far as I can see. as long as it's a good song. that‘s more important to us.‘ I
A year ago. Lush released 6010. an album i compilation of their entire recorded output to date i
— Scar plus the contents of two EPs and two extra tracks. As well as being a useful ‘beginner‘s guide to Lush' package. it revealed by chronological track listing that there has in fact been some progress in the Lush sound. Their current EP. Black Spring. is their first release since then. and. although it doesn‘t offer much in the way of tantalising variety. it does add four refined pop slabs to the band’s repertoire and gives an indication that. by the time their first proper full-length album appears in January. their name could be an accurate description of their music. Lush songs are now chiselled where before they were quarried.
Which brings us to the bone of contention. 'l'he allegation that the producer maketh the sound. Live. Lush can be a shambolic amalgam of bum notes. false starts and crass observational banter. but on record there are no such vagaries. The individual currently responsible for ironing out the creases is none other than Robin Guthrie. with whom the band have worked in the past.
‘People do think he's our Stock. Aitken and Waterman.’ sighs Emma. ‘but it‘s not really like that. Robin has a very unique sound but he really tries to capture the character of the band. He didn't do ‘Sweetness and Light‘ and it was still a Lush record. Tim Friese-(jrecn. who did it. has a completely opposite way of working and seeing things but you can still say it‘s very Lush. f
‘lfwe had been put in the studio with a really i brilliant producer when we started and had come I out with a very slick album. that wouldn't really have been representative of what we were like. We : were quite naive and raw and I think Scar captured i that.‘
Three years from inception to debut album. i Lush have bided their time and grown up a bit ! along the way. Rough edges have been sanded. but the breezy innocence of the early recordings is still there. Lush know they are in the throes of something worthwhile. Longevity could be theirs yet.
Lush play (he .llayfuir. Glasgow on Tues .22.