You know that sweet spot, just at the point where euphoria stands on the precipice before tipping over into sadness? There must be some sort of chemical reaction that occurs as the melancholy starts to inch forward suddenly becoming a tide that engulfs you before you can step back. LIPS have to know that place well because they take us there throughout this five-track e.p.
Self-described as, ‘a four piece jangle-pop band from Falmouth,’ LIPS are underselling themselves, yes they are on the surface exactly that, but this is ravishing stuff.
It‘s there in the opening seconds of Apartment, guitars shimmer and jangle (I can‘t deny it), catching you in a cat’s cradle of beauty, then turning tougher with some confident sky scraping moments, before pulling back again. Bass and drums sensitively colouring and pushing back at the right moments. Female vocals high above the action, phrases here and there emerging and fading. In my mind the band are in a dingy practice room, in a circle facing each other, letting eye contact control the ebb and flow of these songs. I, of course, have a fertile imagination.
Songs linger around the four-minute mark but instead of outstaying their welcome it seems like an unexpected bonus when a sweetly aching coda is allowed to play out just a little longer. It’s a bit like finding that extra Malteser (insert favourite chocolate according to taste) at the bottom of the packet.
Confidently they use great touches like the crunchy, Creep-like guitar that appears briefly in Pages or the momentary syncopated pause in the same song, but resist the temptation to overplay their ideas. Time and again little details, the fragment of violin in Walls or it‘s unexpectedly rocking sections, stop you thinking you know what's coming next.
LIPS aren’t breaking the dreampop/jangle mould here, but when you’re this good at getting the best from a genre and importantly can add the depth of real emotion, then you don’t need to. It’s being able to deliver that elusive heart-tug that separates the efficient pastiche from the real deal.
Highlight? Hard to say, but the Smiths-kissed bliss of Sunken is sending that happy/sad shiver down my spine at the moment: dappled sunlight slips through the trees as summer fades, eternally. It’s gorgeous.
And, just to add a touch of random strangeness, in another lifetime I was in a Sunday Records band. If LIPS had been around then I would have been jealous.
- by Simon Heavisides
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L I P S are a four-piece from Falmouth, Cornwall. Teetering on the edge of woozy shoegaze and understated dream-pop,they balance it all out with pinpoint songwriting, moving live shows and a consistently keen eye for aesthetics.
Their debut single 'Apartment', represents a progression for the band into a well-oiled and focused, reverberant machine. The instrumentation is layered meticulously, the vocals drift elegantly with 80's pop inspired melodies and the coda crushes balefully. The single reached over 100k streams and airtime on BBC Radio 6 shortly after release.