Hong Kong-based shoegazers outfit 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 in 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.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you might recall that the Hong Kong shoegazers released their 10-song, self-titled, full-length debut last year. The album’s material thematically touched upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult and desperate times.
In the lead-up to the self-titled debut’s release, I wound up writing about four of the album’s 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.
- “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 album’s opening track and fifth single, which continued a run of lush, sculptured and painterly soundscapes but paired with a propulsive and energetic four-on-the-floor. And while seemingly nodding at 4AD Records beloved heyday, “North Acton” serves as the perfect introduction to the band and their sound while arguably being one of the album’s most upbeat and hopeful singles.
Several years before, their full-length debut, the Hong Kong-based JOVM mainstays, then-known as Thud released an EP, 2015’s Floret. The EP made an instant splash among local music lovers — and in a short period of time, they landed coverage from the likes of international publications like Time Out and NME. As a result of a growing national and international profile, the JOVM mainstays opened for the likes of Nothing, The Cribs, and Beach Fossils.
Floret was the first bit of original material that the JOVM mainstays wrote during a period that was understandably turbulent, both personally and politically. Surrounded by increasing politically-fueled violence and threats, an oppressive and weighty depression spread to the music scene. And with shows being canceled and releases stalled, Floret EP quietly slipped offline.
For the first time in years, Floret EP is set to return. Pressed onto vinyl for the first time, the EP’s material is fully remastered, repackaged with new artwork and expanded with remixes from some of the band’s favorite artists. The remixes bring an international flair to an EP originally tracked in Hong Kong with remixes of from Austin-based Ringo Deathstarr frontman Elliott Frazer, New York-based Orchin, Tokyo‘s For Tracy Hyde, Bavaria’s The B.V.’s and London-based Yuck‘s Max Bloom.
The expanded and reissued EP’s first single, EP opener “Lime” is a lush and dreamy bit of shoegaze featuring reverb-drenched guitar jangle, glistening, ambient synth arpeggios, and a motorik groove paired with ethereal vocals and an expansive, hook-driven song structure. Sonically, “Lime” may remind some listeners of Slowdive‘s 2018 self-titled album meeting Lightfoils’ 2014 effort Hierarchy — with the end result being a song with a gorgeous yet vulnerable song with enormous hooks.
Ringo Deathstarr’s Elliot Frazier’s remix of “Lime” removes the ambient guitar textures and gives the song a gritty feel by dialing up the bass into an insistent, warm crunch. The end result leaves Kim’s vocals exposed in the vocals, giving the song a visceral vulnerability, just as the song’s explosive choruses come.
The JOVM mainstays will be embarking on a lengthy Stateside tour — with most of the dates, opening for fellow JOVM mainstays Blushing. The tour includes an October 21, 2022 stop at Berlin Under A. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
10/21 | NYC, NY @ Berlin Under A
10/22 | Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
10/23 | Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig
10/24 | Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
10/25 | Memphis, TN @ Growlers
10/26 | TBA
10/27 | TBA
10/28 | San Antonio @ TBA
10/30 | Austin, TX @ LEVITATION (Empire)
10/31 | El Paso, TX @ MONA
11/1 | Phoenix, AZ @ Linger Longer
11/2 | Los Angeles, CA @ Resident