Lucy Show, The -...undone

Words On Music
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Almost 25 years since its release, …undone, the 1985 debut by the London quartet The Lucy Show, remains an essential work in the British post-punk oeuvre. Produced by Steve Lovell (Blur, James) and Steve Power (Robbie Williams, Blur), …undone injects howling guitars and psychedelic flourishes into bittersweet pop songs with hook-laden choruses.

At the time …undone was released, The Lucy Show was filling to capacity London venues like the Marquee Club and the Lyceum Ballroom. Across the Atlantic, the record landed at #1 on the U.S. college radio charts, with a tour across America soon to follow.

"Ephemeral (This Is No Heaven)" was the album’s first single, a song in which singer/guitarist/keyboardist Mark Bandola masterfully juxtaposes verses etched with sparsely situated guitar melodies and soaring choruses laden with lush backing vocals.

But if "Ephemeral" is a composed, cautious courtship, "Resistance" is a torrid, frantic affair, sprinting out of the gate at 180 bpm with pulsating 1/8th note basslines from singer Rob Vandeven. While Bryan Hudspeth's off-downbeat cymbal work and elongated string lines by Fiona Stephen (Belle and Sebastian, David Byrne) harness the song's energy through the first two choruses, Vandeven's voice eventually lets loose, jumping an octave in pitch and several notches in intensity at the bridge.

Another Lucy Show fan favorite, "Come Back to the Living," is anchored by Bandola's ultra-catchy, stabbing guitar riff, but the payoff is the song's sweetly melancholic chorus featuring archetypal Bandola lyrics, ripe with imagery and subtle phrasing: "I'm using up my imagination / Bleeding moments from my past / It's the new means to pretending / From the ending but then again."

"The White Space" was the first Lucy Show song to inaugurate comparisons to (Seventeen Seconds-era) The Cure, with its minor chord progression, minimalist drums, and reverse-echo vocals reciting chilly, bleak lyrics: "They don’t make feelings like they used to."

"Undone" was the album's second single, a galloping pop song that tranforms by the end with an avalanche of psychedelic treatments. The rare Vandeven composition "Do I Ride" plays backwards in the coda — showcasing the influence of the Beatle’s experimental side on the band, with the tambourine-shaking follow-up track "Remain" highlighting the melodic Revolver-era impact.

The album then closes with a trio of standout tracks. "Better on the Hard Side," is a bold, epic Vandeven arrangement, centered on a singular chord progression which repeats and builds in U2 The Unforgettable Fire fashion. A stirring chorus of sweeping string melodies and Pete Barraclough's vibrato hypnotic lead guitar lines punctuating every line Vandeven delivers.

"Better on the Hard Side" segues into "Remembrances," a song constructed in classic Bandola style — sparse opening verses, gradually ripening in anticipation of an arresting chorus. Only "Remembrances" has a twist: the song builds, but does not burst — the climax of this next-to-last track is withheld for the album finale. Instead, guitar squalls and doubling of stabbing bass and guitar line jabs by Vandeven and Barraclough cleverly foreshadow the absolute torrent of feedback that defines the scorching album closer, "Dream Days."

"Dream Days" is Psychocandy with both noise and melody to spare, as layers upon layers of guitars pile onto Hudspeth's tom-tom rhythm bed, while a tribal chorus decrees, "The one who needs is the one who bleeds." As beautiful chaos takes root, the song fades out, back in, and then out again, resurrecting one last hint of Beatles imagery on a post-punk soundscape.

However, the importance of …undone extends well beyond its post-punk canvas. As Jack Rabid, editor of The Big Takeover, explains, the record is a "touchstone bridging the early Magazine / Bunnymen / Sound / Comsat Angels U.K. post-punk pinnacle and the House of Love and Stones Roses emergence, sparking the shoegaze-dreampop explosion."

1. ephemeral (this is no heaven)
2. resistance
3. come back to the living
4. the white space
5. wipe out
6. the twister
7. undone
8. remain
9. better on the hard side
10. remembrances
11. dream days

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