Hong Kong-based shoegazer outfit and newest JOVM mainstays 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, dreamy and blissful sound. Interestingly, their material often manages to evoke the mood of its 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 heading back to their jobs.
The Hong Kong-based JOVM mainstay’s 10-song, self-titled, full-length debut officially dropped today. And as you may recall, the album’s material thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult and desperate times. Over the past handful of months I’ve written about three of the album’s singles in the lead-up to its release:
- “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.
- “Hotel 65” a song that alternates between shimmering and ethereal verses and anthemic choruses featuring thunderous drumming and feedback drenched power chords. And while evoking a brewing storm on the horizon, the song lyrically name drops the guesthouse where Lucid Express’ frontperson Kim Ho stayed in while visiting the UK — and speaks of a relationship that should have never happened between two strangers, who both know that their time together will only be brief moment.
“North Acton,” the self-titled album’s opener — and fifth and latest single — continues a run of sculptured and painterly lush soundscapes, but this time paired with a propulsive and energetic four-on-the-floor. Seemingly nodding at 4AD Records beloved heyday, “North Acton” serves as the perfect introduction to the band and their sound while arguably be one of the album’s most upbeat and hopeful singles.
The recently released video for “North Acton” features trippy collage-based artwork by London-based artist Nick Scott (who also designed the album’s cover art) that takes the viewer on a psychedelic journey through his hometown and landscapes featuring oceans, mountains and clouds — all seen in neon-colored negatives.