Best tunes of 1992: #12 Lush “For love”

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Having reached my teen years growing up in a small town, wheels became an absolute necessity. I didn’t get my driver’s license until 1992, much later than my other friends, and only because I wanted to beat the implementation of graduated licensing in Ontario, Canada (those from the province of a certain age will know of what I speak). But even after getting my license, there was always the hurdle of convincing my parents to loan me their vehicle for the evening.

Luckily, we had a few friends in our group that had their own car or had no similar difficulties in borrowing one from their parents, and one of these was our friend Tim. Even when he went off to university, he had no problem getting his father’s keys whenever he was back in town for a visit. And though we appreciated being able to get anywhere within driving distance on most nights, it didn’t stop us poking fun at the malfunctioning climate controls or the fact that the fuel gauge was perennially on empty. We never did run out of gas, to everyone’s surprise, and Tim always ended the night by putting $2-3 in the tank to keep the needle just above the red mark.

Of course, there was always great tunes pumping out of the factory-installed speakers on those evenings out on the town. Tim seemed to have a new mix in the cassette deck every single time and though we always jokingly slagged him for his tastes, I was always discovering new bands this way. Which brings us to our song at the number twelve spot on my best tunes of 1992 list.

It was either late November or early December in 1992. It was most definitely a cold evening because I remember Tim having to rub away a small window in the frost that had accumulated on the inside of the windshield. He was back for the weekend from Waterloo university and we were getting into his car after taking in the late showing of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” at the Whitby cineplex theatre. The heater didn’t seem to be doing anything to warm our bones but thankfully, the stereo was working and as he pulled out of his parking spot, Lush’s “For love” came bursting forth.

I would later learn that this was the second single to be released off “Spooky”, the London-based quartet’s first proper LP of new material. For this one, the band had enlisted Cocteau Twin’s Robin Guthrie to produce, much as he had on two of their previous EPs. Fans of his band might recognize his influence on the work here, lots of light bounces and sun reflections and haze rather than the noisy guitars of Lush’s shoegazing contemporaries. There was plenty of time for that later.

“For love” is still one of my favourite Lush tracks and not just because it was my first. Just listen to that bass line bopping back and forth like a slinky and those ringing and jangling guitars, sounding like chimes and bells dancing in the wind. And yeah, the dual harmonizing female vocals by Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, all breathy and breathless, voices sounding almost like they are singing through flutes. It could be the memory creeping in every time I listen to it but I always get the tingling feeling of a light frost and the twinkling and tinkling of icicles shaking off of fir trees. Beautiful.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.


Best tunes of 1990: #8 Lush “De-Luxe”

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Oh Lush.

This here is another shoegaze band that I really loved back in the day (and still do), though I didn’t get into them until a few years after this particular track’s release. They were formed in 1987 when close friends Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson (who were in other bands previously) joined Chris Acland’s band, Baby Machines. After bassist Steve Rippon joined the band, they changed their name to Lush and a year or so later, original vocalist Meriel Barham (later of Pale Saints) left the band and Berenyi to take over the duties at the mike. She was never confident in her vocal duties early on, however, which is why they were always buried so low in the mix, a hallmark of their early sound.

“De-Luxe” first appeared on the “Mad Love” EP, the second of three short discs released on 4AD from 1989 to 1990. All of these were then compiled at the end of 1990 into one full length release, called “Gala”, meant to introduce the band to North America prior to their proper debut the following year. It was on this latter release that I first heard the single, albeit probably four years later, by way of a tape made for me by my friend Tim. (Thanks again buddy.) For a while, it was the only tape I listened to on my commute between my tiny basement apartment in Vaughan, just north of Steeles Road (Toronto), to the campus at York University. Indeed, I’ll always think of skipping back and forth between my feet to keep warm, waiting for the blasted TTC bus when I hear it. So if this song has a season for me, it’s definitely winter.

And why not? It’s jangly and shimmering, like the pure sounds of ice crystals dancing on the harsh Canadian winter winds. The vocal harmonies of Anderson and Berenyi are high on the register, jingling bells just barely scratching through the surface of the frost on the bus windows in the dark of the morning. You can almost feel the slushy puddles you have to lightly step through to get to the bus doors, not wanting to get your adidas sneakers soaked, lest you have to sit uncomfortably through another philosophy lecture.

But I digress… enjoy the lovely tune.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.