From the concrete to the earth…
Those ragged superstars, the lurid Lucids are back with a new album that once again proves that you are listening to the most important band in Britain, right now.
Here at colourhorizon, we’ve been following the Carlisle lads. From their roots as A Place To Bury Strangers devotees, reigning a noise supreme through the introduction of motorik on ‘Mona Lisa’, the progress has been startling. Then came dub. Like lightning a new direction was forged.
After teasing us with ‘Unchained Dub’ on their second self titled album, a full attack has now been launched.
This is Compulsion Songs.
The cover of the album tells the story of a band in transition from the concrete to the earth. The serenity is a lie, however. These boys are more akin to Romantic explorers standing on the rocks against a raging tempest; the ground shakes with each swell. Or are they Victorian pioneers, harnessing the power of nature for the betterment and enjoyment of mankind?
The Lucid Dream are transcending, no longer a simple matter of lads who make music they are now in that class of bands where the music is in charge of the band. Like Ian Curtis’ vocals (listen to Mark’s deathly intonation of “LAST! LAST! LAST!” on ‘Bad Texan’ for a ‘Digital’ dose of Mr Curtis’ automatic language) or the intricate nether-worlds of the Bunnymen’s adventures, the Lucid’s are the prophets and precogs of new worlds.
The secret of The Lucid Dream’s success is due in large to the rhythm section: Psych’s answer to the Rock of Gibraltar. Mike’s bass, rammed forefront, is an attack dog: snarling and let-loose. Luke’s drumming is as unflinching as it is heroic, as groovy as it is chaotic. Taking a ride with this pair is akin to flying in a Lancaster: it’s an engineering miracle, but the icy fingers of Death are digging into your shoulder.
Smeared all over this you’ll find guitars that lacerate and cauterise simultaneously. All this is augmented with Mark’s toys: melodica and dub siren. A dirty, dirty dub siren.
‘Bad Texan’: switchblade smiles in a capricious dance. The bass tumbles, guitars screech like cars on clifftops. Jostling aggro. The party starts. The war starts.
‘Stormy Waters’ stands as the nightmarish dark-world version of Ocean Rain. Luke’s tempestuous, splashy drums add drama which contrasts with the almost jaunty guitar shuffle and the free wheeling bass.
‘The Emptiest Place’ throws grit into your spaghetti. Ennio Morricone gone rogue, gone feral. Luke’s drums thump like the horses of the vigilante posse, guitars slithering like rattlesnakes. This is intercut with their classic shards of pedal abuse. Coyotes on peyote.
Another (tattier) publication cited ‘Sabotage’ as a reference for ’21st Century’ but I can top that by pointing out that it sounds as if the evergreen Beastie Boys classic has been spliced with a rockabilly cover of ‘Werewolves Of London’. Take that so-called Uncut Magazine.
The final two tracks: ‘Nadir’ and ‘Epitaph’ compose one huge masterpiece that should be treated as one work. The first passage of ‘Nadir’ sees Mike furiously revving the song up through the gears, teasing and tantalising by starting/stopping the bass line, postponing ignition until the tension reaches boiling point. It’s as if the engines of a Trans-Siberian railway locomotive are powering up. When Mike finally releases the brakes, ‘Nadir’ truly gets rolling and motoring and, under full traction, becomes unstoppable. The resulting shifting mass glides on such a relentlessly slick, almost grotesque, parody of perpetual motion, that Kraftwerk would retch; disgusted at their new-found redundancy. “Love turns to hate”, sings Mark.
We slide inside ‘Epitah’ with ringing peals of guitar taking the focus. A simple silver swivel that reverberates and builds a heavenly, shimmering dance. Pinging and surging like an experimental Soviet sub in icy Baltic waters, commanded by Mark’s echoed and lost vocals // unconsciousness starts to ravel. “Love turns to hate”, sings Mark.
A final moment of calm before the final onrush, the final cataclysmic shuddering act of Compulsion Songs where all things must come to a head. The Lucid Dream return to their first obsession; noise. Luke’s thumping drums herald the start of the final madness. Everything we have seen and heard comes back around. Total possession has taken over, a band playing outside its skin, on the edge of reason. Then the glorious pinging returns taking us back to those glorious dance days that seem so long ago. In a final random act of violence, it ends. “Love turns to hate”, sings Mark.
Here then, ‘Nadir’ / ‘Epitaph’ stands as the final meeting place between post-punk and psych.
And it is in the realm of the post-punk classics that we must seek to place this album. For it is surely at one within that pantheon of majesties. Compulsion Songs is as airless as Metal Box, as rhythmically furious as Entertainment! and as all-consuming as Heaven Up Here. The bass is as potent as Barry Adamson’s on Secondhand Daylight and the ride as intoxicating as Unknown Pleasures.
Mark sings each song as if it is his last, the fiery indignation a man who wants to shove his vision down your throat. Even in the midst of his band grooving some demon dance tunes, he sounds like a man wrestling a hornets nest. He spits his words like street corner sermons.
Compulsion Songs is simply an album that blows it sky-high.