MUDKISS FANZINE

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: THE LUCID DREAM – SONGS OF LIES AND DECEIT  REVIEW BY MARY O'MEARA

There’s something peculiar about this album. Although it’s just been launched (in August 2013) it feels much older, like a re-issue that was first issued only via a dream, so we have a faint familiarity with it even on a first listen, even before listening...is it the striking, slightly sinister black and white photograph on the sleeve? I’m guessing this photograph is the view from the band’s rehearsal room windows as mentioned in their press release. It was an old textile factory, overlooked by a disused gas works and this is what I think I see in the hulk of a derelict building standing eerily against a darkening sky. Peculiarly also, I recently sat in a cafe in Hebden Bridge, a lovely little cafe that doubles as a record shop (called Love Music Cafe) and as I sipped my coffee I felt compelled to turn around, as though I was being watched, though not by a person. When I did turn around and scanned the shelves over my shoulder I saw a gatefold album with a striking black and white photograph front...I hadn’t actually seen the album artwork at this time as I was working with a download for my review. Like a magnet I was pulled to this album only to discover it was the album I’d been playing for much of the month. A band from Carlisle called The Lucid Dream! Knowing how good it was I impulsively bought it on my way out. I take these hints seriously. I was meant to find it there. I couldn’t leave it there.

So, what’s so special about this record?

This is their first album, even though they’ve been together since 2008. Sometimes first albums are the best a band will ever make - because they have a certain purity and a pure certainty. I’m not saying this is the best album this band will ever make but I think it’s all the  richer and meatier for having five years of their history compressed into it. You can feel those well-trodden grooves like the repeated patterns of the machines in that textile factory, a pattern that’s outgrown its original blueprint, stretched and pummelled through some alchemy of the soul,  taking on an unimagined but fitting shape.

The first of the nine tracks is the wailing and demented How’s your low when you’re low alone? I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been listening to this album mainly in the hottest summer of the last decade but this song feels like you’re stuck in that building during a heatwave, tr­­­apped by the incessant hiss of factory noises and a oppressive ticking clock. The sound is hot and humid, compelling even if stressful. The next track Glue (Song for Irvine Welsh) dives over  the electric fence, receives an electric shock and keeps on running and screaming. The Lucid Dream have been compared to The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream in their darker, faster moments and I wouldn’t disagree but the band that springs to mind most for me that they are reminiscent of is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Yet, just when you may think you’ve got them pegged in these first two songs (if you believe in pegging people) you realize that there is more to them that those blistering, hell-raising numbers they’ve just whacked you over the head with.

Third track Love in My Veins forms a kind of bridge between their extremes and is a hybrid of their heavier and more melodic material. Perhaps it would have been too much to keep the frantic pace up. This is one of the strongest tracks on the record. Love in My Veins has a bigger, wider sound - something that could be described as punchy psych pop with a beautiful blur of vocals splashing each other backwards and forwards in the face. Then there’s Heartbreak Girl – the band are speeding through the sixties in this lucid dream of theirs, crashing through the Cavern club – but somehow it’s not as carefree and smiling as that era  in many ways was, though it may look like it is on the surface of these songs. Yet, there’s something dark and dank stuck to the soles of their shoes – something that got stuck in that godforsaken factory again perhaps?

Heading for the Waves possesses a beautiful searching melody introducing a psychedelic folk vibe that could almost perch on a  Byrds record. At this point the decades just melt away and the music feels as fresh as a sound that could have wafted through Laurel Canyon nearly half a century ago. In Your Eyes, likewise, proves that simplicity is so often the sweetest and most powerful thing. The pace picks up again with A mind at ease is a mind at play – this song feels as though you’re driving through tunnel after tunnel with only brief seconds of daylight to blink through before being submerged again. .The Twilight End contains a lovely vocal dance with a hint of the Stone Roses hovering in the background and then the final track Sweet Hold on Me defiantly raises its head and we re-enter the jumbled, manic nightscape we thought we’d escaped from earlier on.

This is like a reprise of a song that never happened – a trace of a dream, fleeing memories that scramble out the door as you lift your head from the pillow. Each song spills into the next like those kind of dreams that have no real beginning or end and just circle about interweaving with each other the whole night long. With its stuttering drums and accelerating guitars this parting shot certainly leaves its dirty but dramatic mark. This is one strange journey, feels like watching a black and white photo slide-show that’s whizzing by so swiftly you can’t really decipher each image but are left with on over-riding sense of something epic going having happened. The closing song is over eight minutes long and possibly over eight miles high. Not often does an album come along that manages to be both dark and edgy as well as jaunty and upbeat at the same time but those energies are merged beautifully here and the result is captivating.

Songs of Lies and Deceit is out and about now. You don’t have to go to Hebden Bridge to buy it but I reckon you’ll have quite an adventure if you do!