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A review of...
Brickbat by Piroshka
When various members of bands from music scenes gone by decide to form new bands (super-groups, if you will) it can have wildly varying rates of success (both critically and commercially). There's sometimes a definite air of midlife crisis in these ventures, but there can also be an unexpected spark of mid-career creativity. When it works, it really works (The Good, The Bad and The Queen, Electronic) and when it fails it can be a sorry sight (anyone remember Freebass? They had three bassists which should really have set alarm bells ringing). Well i'm pleased to say that this band (if we're classing them as a super-group), on the evidence of this debut would fit into the former group.
Piroshka features members of Lush (Miki Berenyi), Moose (KJ "Moose" McKillop), Modern English (Mick Conroy) and Elastica (Justin Welch - who was also a member of Lush when they briefly reformed in 2015 - neatly completing the circle). Although the album has a more angular, hardened edge than anything you'll have heard from Lush, the dreamy vocals from Berenyi and the flair for a pop melody still give this more than just a passing whiff of Lushness (the album artwork is also strongly reminiscent of Lush's distinct visual style). However, it's clear that, musically and lyrically, this is a true collaborative project with each band-mate bringing something to the table.
The album opens with "This Must Be Bedlam", a mix of jangly guitar, jarring jabs of feedback and angry words which non-too-subtly reference the modern world, and particularly modern Britain. It's a defiant opening number, but things get a bit more tranquil on "Village Of The Damned" with it's 50's guitar strums, glimmering keys and pop brass. However, underneath the veneer (and a captivating chorus) is another take on the modern world in the form of school shootings and our numbed response to them.
But where the opening half of this debut revels in its snarky, on the nose lyrics and pop hooks, the band really hit their stride on side 2. Things get subtler and the band seem to relax into their new band and their roles within it. "Everlastingly Yours" has some nice Bond-theme undertones, but with the big budget strings replaced by Moose's distinctive keyboards and lyrics (also penned by Moose) which come from a much darker place than your average smash hit bond song. The album closes with "She's Unreal" which harks back to early shoegaze, a scene which these musicians were either on the fringes of, or directly involved in. Muddy and dream-like, a bit confusing and complimented by some textbook anger from Berenyi it gets the melody/intensity ratio just right (in a My Bloody Valentine sort of way). I'm sure that many shoegaze fans will have been crying out for a band like this, and with Brickbat, Piroshka have delivered an album which offers glimpses of nostalgia along with a whole load of new ideas. It's nice to have the four of them back.