Known to most Americans as the opening band on the 1992 Lollapalooza tour, Lush had a few minor Modern Rock hits in the early ’90s but never broke through in a major way. So, why should you like Lush? The evidence, please:
They’ll Give You a Swirly: Lush’s early work was drenched in effects-laden guitars and Cocteau Twins/My Bloody Valentine-ish swirling production, courtesy of Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie. This got the band branded with the “shoegaze” and “dreampop” tags. While songs like “For Love” ratcheted up the effects pedals, the vocal interplay between Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi kept things melodic and hooky, making Lush the darlings of the 120 Minutes set for a few months. All that swirl sometimes threatened to swallow the pop underpinnings lurking beneath the surface. But if you prefer some swirl in your alt-pop, here’s your band.
They Eventually Flushed the Swirl: The band’s second proper album, Split, saw the group head into a more mainstream direction (a move mirrored by their shoegazing contemporaries, Catherine Wheel) as Lush stripped down much of their wall-of-sound production for a more straight-ahead presentation, as Split‘s first single, “Hypocrite” (download), reflects:
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The songs became shorter and snappier, but the band wasn’t above the occasional eight-minute heartbreak epic like “Desire Lines.” But Lush wasn’t done inching towards the mainstream yet.
Their Crowning Moment: Lush’s final album, Lovelife, was the band’s roll of the dice, targeted right for the heart of alternative radio in those heady days of post-grunge 1996. While “Ladykillers” (download) was the obvious choice for a single, all sing-along choruses and handclaps, Lovelife‘s “Last Night” (download) is a menacing, atmospheric thrill ride that happens to combine the best elements of the band’s early sound and later, more accessible productions.
For Fans Of: Cocteau Twins, Catherine Wheel, Swervedriver, the Bangles
The band’s catalog, with the exception of a hit compilation, is currently out of print, but can be had for a song at Amazon or on