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- What Am I Doing? by Lushes
9/10 Mike Staff review, 27 February 2014
This record has been a nice surprise today. I've not come across Lushes before but this Brooklyn duo have come up with a fascinating debut LP in 'What Am I Doing'. The pair mix bare-bones indie pop with lots of clever, intricate drum grooves alongside swells of wibbly synth and spidery guitar lines. Opener 'Harsh' kicks things off in real style, a kind of Slint-meets-Dismemberment Plan churn of post-millennial tension, woozy and spectral but also precise and minimal, full of phased hi-hat chittering, chiming guitar harmonics and coldly unsettling clouds of synth.
And so the stage is set for a pretty solid album of clever indie rock with a kind of late '90s art rock sensibility mixed with a straight-faced, almost scientific approach to song construction, whether they're building up crafty almost Pinbacky layers of looped guitar and synth or blasting out Shellac-esque deconstructed stop-start rock. They're also happy to settle into grooves and let them properly breathe and develop in an almost krautrocky way sometimes which is fine by me. They're not your average indie rock band at all.
Another notable track is penultimate number 'Feastin' which runs to a mammoth 10 minutes, it starts out in a greasy neon-tinged Lungfish stumble, then there's a section of drifting meditation with Silver Mt Ziony vocals and sweet synth drones lulling you into a false sense of security before morphing into a trance-inducing swirl of mumbly vocal loops and psychedelic synth and a slicing drum and guitar groove, which is much more interesting than the by-the-book lengthy post-rock build-up I was expecting from the album's really long song.
That's what I think is so enticing about this album, it's a mess of contradictions, precise and distant and always engaging the listener in a guessing game, teasing them with resolutions they only sometimes deliver, in a Slint-ish way which will frustrate some listeners but excite others. There are a couple of tracks where it feels like they're treading water a bit but on the whole this is very solid. I want to listen to it a few more times to get my head around it properly, which is a rare and welcome response for someone who has to listen to as much music as I do.
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