THE HONG KONG shoegaze quintet Lucid Express have tapped into the beautiful blur of that genre at its finest as a safe and exhilarating space away from the continuing political upheaval, domestically.
The band began when the five were teenagers in the winter of 2014, in the weeks leading up to the protests that became known as the Umbrella Movement.
While all around there were scenes of tear-gassed and beaten protesters, politically-targeted arrests, and death threats from government officials, singer Kim Ho was meeting with like-minds and musicians Andy, Samuel, Sky, and Wai in the small practice space they rent in the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood.
Kim says: “At that time it felt like we have a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation.”
The escape they created? Check out their latest single, “Hotel 65”; it does all the right things, all the good things, aims for the stars. It isn’t that occasionally abased relation of shoegaze, ‘dream pop’, whose definition struggles from being amorphous; it’s straight-to-the-heart, Rachel and Neil proper shoegaze; angelic vocals, swathes of guitar harmony. Great, in short.
The title and the lyrics namecheck the West London guesthouse at which singer Kim stayed on a visit to the UK, and at which she had a brief, intense assignation with another guest before going their separate ways across the world. Should it have happened? It’s a question the song explores in sonic delicacy.
The accompanying video is a collage of footage taken from the band’s travels in their native Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan, the UK and the United States. These flashes of visual memento are interspersed with snatches of lyrics scrawled onto mirrors, notebooks and paper. London is explored elsewhere on the album on “North Acton”, on which Kim seizes that realisation that “none of this would last forever”.
““Hotel 65” follows previous singles, the gentle blissful wooze of “Hollowers”, featuring Adam Honingford of The Bilinda Butchers; and the gently defiant, majestic chime of “Wellwave”, with its hazy video shot on the tallest mountain in the territory, Tai Mo Shan.
That self-titled debut album will be out in just over a fortnight now; lovers of the ‘gaze, you know what to do.
Lucid Express’s Lucid Express will be released by Kanine Records digitally, on turquoise cassette and limited edition turquoise vinyl on July 16th and is available to pre-order now over at Bandcamp; and on coke bottle clear vinyl exclusively at Rough Trade.