Rainy Mondays, vol. 5 – “Sweetness and Light”

Welcome back! For this edition of Rainy Mondays, I thought I’d take the time to shine a light on an old favorite, rather than something new.

Lush are a dream pop group formed in the late 80s, following the rise of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Cocteau Twins. They definitely borrow a lot from the lilting mood of the latter group, to the point where many accused them of chasing their coattails. I find they were quite capable of crafting their own mood and narrative within the space of their songs. To me, their magnum opus is 1990’s “Sweetness and Light,” taken from the EP of the same name. It’s a great fusion of early shoegaze (very light on feedback and heavier on chorus – a definite plus for me) and 90s dance, with a punchy beat driving the guitars ever forward. The lyrics, too, seem to fade in and out of consciousness, but the imagery conveyed fits the music to a T. “You are the sweetness in my eyes/You are an apple in disguise” is a simple, but expressive, refrain for this song. It’s such a weird image, but somehow it works.

Lush’s discography is rather spotty, in my opinion – 1992’s Spooky, often cited as their best, is a bit too murky and drowned in effects to be consistently compelling, though some of its lyrics are quite great – but their second album, Split, and the Gala compilation (which collects their first three EPs, including “Sweetness and Light”) are definitely worth checking out. The former is the perfect balance of atmospheric effects coupled with emotive songwriting, while the latter is a great showcase of a band forging its own path forward, albeit in reverse chronological order.

“Sweetness and Light” is currently available as part of the Gala compilation, released by 4AD in 1990 and re-released in 2016. Gala is available at Amazon.

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