This Lusts article was written by Michael Liggins, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Adam Skirving.
Recently there has been a torrent of beach-oriented bands arriving on British shores. Heavily washed in reverb and sun-soaked imagery, these musicians – alongside heavier psych-rock acts like Tame Impala – are currently making themselves known to impressionable British recording artists. However, Britain’s coastline is renowned for its increasingly deprived towns rather than its surf culture, and resultantly this country’s reverb-heavy indie bands showcase a markedly darker tone. Andy and James Stone, the siblings behind Lusts, hail from Leicester – as far inland from the coast as you can possibly get.
Lusts debut ‘Illuminations,’ produced by MJ of the band Hookworms, contains similar ear-splitting production techniques as previously showcased by the producer on both Hookworms ‘The Hum’ and Eagulls self-titled EP. The album opens with a brief synth instrumental before bursting into sonic lucidity on the track ‘Sometimes.’ The song introduces a band enamoured with the neo-psychedelia of Echo and the Bunnymen and the melodic sensibilities of Beach Fossils. It’s impressive to consider that the sounds captured on ‘Illuminations’ were created by two people alone, and not a band with a larger roster. Each song features multi-tracked guitars and synthesisers with the delay/reverb effects cranked up to eleven.
Lusts possess the ability to write memorable and hedonistic sounding pop songs. ‘Temptation’ is a potential dance floor filler, with synth highs and new-wave guitar playing over a relentless rhythm. The middle section of the album contains a rapid succession of Lusts finest songwriting. The band have described the record’s title track ‘Illuminations’ as the “beating heart of the album” and it is a superb piece of dark-pop. Opening to a strong psychedelic groove, the song combines glassy organs with distorted guitars and a hypnotic chorus, before leading into instrumental disruption ‘Attraction.’
The highlight of the album however, is ‘Waves.’ The energetic song mixes gothic pop and surf rock, with a driving rhythm and repetitious chorus which stays with you long after the track ends. There are a number of tracks on ‘Illuminations’ that don’t quite hold up to the album’s songwriting highs. ‘Bad Weekend’ and ‘Don’t Kiss Me’ contain fairly forgettable melodies, with the compressed production also growing cumbersome at this point during the record.
The album draws to a close with the bass driven ‘Mouthwash’. Phase laden guitars collide with flickering synth notes to produce one of the album’s strongest tracks. It is a confident finale to an album that holds little variation in its unrelenting pace, which is solely noticeable when listening to the record in one sitting.
‘Illuminations’ certainly has its weaker tracks, but Lusts showcase a degree of pop sophistication in the best examples of their songwriting. The album is an impressive debut for the duo, who bring a fresh spirit to the darker strains of British melodic guitar pop.