Coming after the mini-album Scar, the Robin Guthrie produced Mad Love marked the arrival of the definitive sound of Lush. It was also the last time Steve Rippon appeared on Bass he was replaced by Phil King after. Recorded in The Church which was Dave Stewart’s studio with not too much production over the top.
The opener De-Luxe is intoxicating dreamy with an infectious melody that sounds like the sun rising on a clear morning. Leaves Me Cold allegedly is about an inappropriate dream that Miki Berenyi had. I always thought of the vocals in Lush songs as extra instruments and never listened to the actual words. Downer showcases the Emma/Miki chorus singing. The version of Thoughtforms on this EP is different to the one released on Scar, Lush must really love this song because it was reworked again in the album Gala.
Mad Love’s title is a rough translation of L’amour fou, the title of a 1937 photographic novel by French surrealist writer André Breton. Guitarist Emma Anderson suggested the idea for the title to Berenyi after the latter received a telephone call from 4AD co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell requesting a title for the record in less than an hour. Bassist Steve Rippon considered it a “heavy metal title … like Led Zeppelin”, while Berenyi said it was reminiscent of the 1987 film Crazy Love (this was directly lifted from Wikipedia)
‘Mad Love (EP)’ 2019, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., viewed 19 May 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Love_(EP)
Lush : Mad Love
Leaves Me Cold
Black Spring was the fourth EP from Lush. It was released just before their debut album. Allegedly it is their first movement away from Robin Guthrie, but he is still the producer and engineers it. So the Cocteau style layering and cloudy production is still apparent. Nothing Natural is the most prominent track on this EP. The bass drives this song along. The EP ends with another song off Spooky, Monochrome which is a very Cocteau Twinseque number. There are two tracks that do not appear on any of the albums. One is a sublime cover of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s Fallin’ in Love. The other is God’s Gift a sparkly ethereal song that reminds me of dew drops on a sunny morning.
Lush : Black Spring
Fallin’ In Love
Lush are often remembered for their last album Lovelife. Not for the majority of their shoegazing work. While Single Girl maybe catchy it is not a true reflection of the band. The bulk of their work was solid shoegaze.
Split shows Lush moving away from Robin Guthrie’s control. After being criticised for his production in Spooky, they wanted Bob Mould to produce the album, he ended up mixing it instead. Ivo Watts-Russell suggested Mike Hedges, should be the producer/engineer. The other notable change in line up was Phil King replaced Steve Rippon on bass.
This combination was a winner, it bulked out the whispy tunes and the sound was more robust. Hypocrite and Lovelife show a remarkable move away from ethereal unintelligible vocals which were part of Lush’s trademark. These two songs are probably the standout tracks for me. Most listeners seem to favour the opener Light from a Dead Star a mournful lament to lost love and fading hopes. It’s a great track but it sounds like a beefier Spooky track.
There are a couple of over seven and a half minute epics on here, Desire Lines and Never-Never. Desire Lines builds up to a crescendo and then ebbs away, while Never-Never is languid and analgesic, one review I read in Rate Your Music compared melodic guitar part appears to be a slow-motion version of She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult. It’s not a perfect album Emma Anderson herself said in an interview that a couple of songs were just filler, namely Blackout and Undertow.
Lush : Split
Light From A Dead Star
The Invisible Man
When I Die
The Hypocrite EP is a high point in the Lush back catalogue, they have ditched the floaty vocals, but this does not detract from the haunting melodies. It was produced by Mike Hedges (The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees) and mixed by Alan Moulder (Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins) and the movement away from 4AD’s Robin Guthrie was a good. There is a non album track Love At First Sight which really deserved to but put on a LP. There is a remix of Undertow [Spooky remix], which is really atmospheric, all nine minutes of it. This was strange at the time, the shoegazing scene never generally mixed with the electronic genre.
Lush : Hypocrite
Love at First Sight
Undertow [Spooky Remix]
Gala was an introduction to Lush for the American and Japanese markets. It contains the band’s first three EPs which were only available in the UK. They needed to get a foothold in the American market with their debut album about to be released and a place secured on the Lollapalooza tour.
It showcases the catchy melodies, distortion,effervescence and everything that made Lush what it is. There are a selection of outtakes and a cover of Abba’s underrated divorce-pop masterpiece Hey Hey Helen. Produced by Tim Friese-Greene (Talk Talk), Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and John Fryer (This Mortal Coil), who produced Sweetness and Light EP, Mad Love EP and the Scar mini album accordingly. This means that there are two versions of Thoughtforms one produced by Guthrie the other by Fryer. In retrospective reviews it was the production that received criticism, but upon a recent listen I would disagree. The production adds the the 90’s feel of the album and transports me away to that happier time.
Lush : Gala
Sweetness And Light
Leaves Me Cold
Hey Hey Helen
Scarlet (New Version)
Possibly the last great EP from indie stalwarts Lush. Taken from the Spooky album; the title track is a lovely piece of standard fare, but the rest of the EP is a blinder. It includes an early version of Starlust, Miki Berenyi’s vocals sound not as assertive as the version that appears on Split. This gives the song very sweet and twee vocals, contrasted to sassy powerful guitars.
Outdoor Miner is a bold cover of the post-punk Wire classic. Admittedly the original is a melodic accessible piece, and not as Oi! as some of their other tracks. Lush take Outdoor Miner and make it warm and feminine . The last track Astronaut is a whimsical atmospheric delight, gossamer delicate vocals loosely held together with guitar riffs.
Lush : For Love
The first proper release from Lush. It was produced by Cocteau Twin, Robin Guthrie. Much of the debate about this album is did Guthrie’s sonic enhancements contribute to the album or did it detract from Lush’s creative talent. It has been criticised for burying vocals and drumming under walls of sound and flanging. I will leave that for you to decide, it has some beautiful harmonies and some groovy hip swaying hum along songs such as Nothing Natural. Infectious and catchy songs such as Superblast! Its just a shame that you can’t really singalong to the song as the vocals are unintelligible. The pick of the bunch is the last song Monochrome which is the definitive Lush masterpiece.
I saw Lush on tour in 1992, on their Spooky tour and I can’t really remember that much about it. Except they were supported by Spitfire.
Lush : Spooky