Rising Hong Kong-based indie 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 formed the band in the turbulent weeks just prior to the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against increasingly brutal state-led suppression in their home region. Amidst the constantly 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 band 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 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. Of course while 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.
So far, the act 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. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the Hong Kong shoegazers released the self-titled album’s second single “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.
Building up more buzz for the forthcoming album’s release, the album’s third single “Hollowers” finds the Hong Kong-based quartet subtly pushing their sound towards its darkest corners — while also being the album’s only collaborative track: the features The Bilinda Butchers’ Adam Honingford, who contributes his baritone to the track’s chorus. Interestingly, their collaboration can be traced back to when Lucid Express shared a bill on the Hong Kong stop of a Bilinda Butchers tour to the region and as the members of Lucid Express share, they’ve been mutual fans since that show. “From the first time we heard Adam on stage in Hong Kong, we always wanted to ask him to sing on one of our songs,” Kim explains. During the album’s writing sessions, “Hollowers” began to take shape as a song that might offer the perfect opportunity to collaborate.
And although the song features shimmering synth arpeggios, shimmering guitars, the track’s stormy feedback driven chorus give the song its emotional heft, keeping the material grounded in an uncertain reality. Thematically, the song finds its narrator coming to terms with the gnawing realization that even if two people have all the passion of the world, a lack of deeper understanding can leave a relationship with finite time on the clock.