Hong Kong-based shoegazer outfit Lucid Express — Kim (vocals, synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), and siblings Samuel (bass) and Wai (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2014: the then-teenagers started the band (initially known as Thud), in the turbulent weeks before the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against the increasingly brutal state-led suppression in the region. Amidst the constant scenery of tear-gassed, bloodied and beaten protestors, politically-targeted arrests and death threats from government officials, the five Hong Kong-based musicians met in a small practice space sun the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood.
Despite the ugliness of their sociopolitical moment, the Hong Kong-based outfit manages to specialize in an ethereal and shimmering blend of indie pop, dream pop and shoegaze with their practice space being someplace where they could escape their world. “At that time, it felt like we have [sic] a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation,” the band’s Kim says in press notes.
The band’s current name can be seen as a relatively modest mission statement describing the band’s intent: their use of the word lucid is in the poetic sense of something bright and radiant. Essentially, Lucid Express operates as the service to take the listener on a journey through their lush, blissful and dreamy sounds. Unsurprisingly, their material manages to carry the mood of their inception: with the band’s members working late-night shifts, their rehearsal and recording schedules found the band playing, writing and recording material between midnight and 4:00AM, and then crashing for a few hours in the studio before going back to work.
The end result is the band’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut. the 10-song album thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult times. Although writing and recording together served as a unifying and soothing presence for the members of the band, their music fell victim to their complicated circumstances: The pervasive uncertainty over Hong Kong’s sociopolitical future created an overwhelming feeling of depression that found its way into the local music scene. Shows were cancelled and releases delayed. And for a time, it just didn’t feel relevant to promote music.
While there’s much to be fought for at home, the members of the rising indie rock act have recently begun to feel a fresh hope in their work. They’ve felt as though they’ve reached an understanding of their music’s place amongst the world it inhabits — and they’ve decide to release their full-length, self-titled debut through Kanine Records on July 16, 2021.
Lucid Express has received glowing praise from Time Out for their “dreamy live performances” with their debut single “Lime” receiving praise from Drowned In Sound, NME and others. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months you might recall that I’ve written about two of the album’s release singles:
- “Wellwave,” a sculptured and lush soundscape centered around Kim’s ethereal vocals, glistening synths, skittering four-on-the-floor and a motorik groove — with the end result being a song that reminded me quite a bit of Lightfoils, Palm Haze and Cocteau Twins but while feeling like a lucid fever dream.
- “Hollowers” the only collaborative track on the album as it features The Bilinda Butchers‘ Adam Honingford, who contributes his baritone to the song’s chorus. Interestingly, the track found the Hong Kong-based outfit pushing their sound towards its darkest corners. While prominently featuring shimmering synth arpeggios and shimmering guitars, the song’s emotional heftiness comes from its stormy, feedback driven chorus.
Following in a similar vein as “Hollowers,” the self-titled album’s fourth and latest single is an exercise in painterly like textures as the band alternates between shimmering and ethereal verses and anthemic choruses centered around thunderous drumming and feedback drenched power chords. While evoking a brewing storm on the horizon, the song lyrically name drops the guesthouse where Lucid Express’ Kim Ho stayed in while visiting the UK and speaks of a relationship that should never happened between two strangers, who both know that their time together will be a brief moment. In life, nothing lasts forever — and nothing is certain.
The recently released video for “Hotel 65” is college of footage shot during the band’s travels through Hong kong, Vietnam, the UK and the US. While at points, capturing life behind the scenes of a young band hitting the road and playing in front of adoring crowds — including the last set of 2020 that I got to see — the changing scenery throughout reflect the lyrical turns of the song. (We also see some of the song’s lyrics scrawled onto mirrors, notebooks, paper scraps and typed onto phones.)