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Piroshka – Love Drips & Gathers

todayJuly 14, 2021 461 7

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After delivering one of 2019’s seminal albums in Brickbat, Piroshka returns for an even deeper dive. For those unacquainted, Piroshka is a collective of some of the nineties’ foremost musical figures. Featuring Miki Berenyi of Lush, KJ “Moose” McKillop of the band Moose, (a live review of the band in Sounds magazine infamously coined the term “shoegazing”).  If that were not impressive enough, also included is Mick Conroy of classic 4AD post-punk band, Modern English, and Justin Welch of Elastica. That’s the kind of assembly that spawned the term “supergroup”.

With Miki promising Love Drips & Gathers to be a shoegaze album at its core as opposed to the more Britpop-era vibe of their debut, I was really excited to give it a listen. I have been living with the album for a few weeks now and I’m pleased to report that it’s so much more.

The album opens on the gentle shuffle of “Hastings”, the sonic palette of which couldn’t be more different to that of Brickbat. Gorgeous languid bass supports the glistening guitar tones with a horn making an appearance in the closing section of the track. It kind of lends it a Balearic, Café del Mar vibe. It’s utterly hypnotic and draws us in immediately.

“The Knife Throwers Daughter” is a loving ode from McKillop to his partner (Berenyi) but also including their daughter and his sister. Delivered with devotion by Miki to a string driven backing, this ballad is a standout moment on the album for its authenticity and musical creativity. The layering of the different instruments to create the otherworldly tone is deftly handled and most striking.

Speaking of striking, we now segue into the driving intro to “Scratching at The Lid”. This song is going to blow the roof of every venue the band play at later this year. The lyrics are about McKillop’s father, and again Miki’s vocal really does them justice. We couldn’t be any further from Lush right now and fans of that era will adore this new direction.

“Loveable” comes in on Berenyi’s trademark twelve string jangle. Dark and brooding, it harks directly back to the sound of her former band. Dripping in nostalgia, this is set to be a fan favourite. It hooked me immediately, sending me spinning back in time. A more assuredly delivered song you’d be hard pressed to find. I particularly love the short instrumental break with what sounds like timpani drums coming in.

‘VO’ is a tribute to 4AD’s late artist-in-residence, Vaughan Oliver. Oliver’s “23 Envelope” was visual creative brand still held in high regard by 4AD artists and fans. His art adorned many a bedroom wall, mine included. Here the band utilise a “How Soon is Now” style guitar lick to form the backbone of what could easily pass for a sultry Bond theme. It is an incredibly ambitious and stretching arrangement which the band carry off with ease.

“Wanderlust” brings to mind the sound of early Stereolab. The laid back groove carries us along buoyantly; every so often the song changes course, surprising us with new textures and sounds. This is the kind of track that has kept me returning to the album, discovering something new each listen.

Continuing that Francophile vibe, we move into the heart of “Echo Loco”. This time a xylophone provides that earworm that grabs you each time you press play. Piroshka have really pushed the boat out on this album with the sheer variety of instruments and sounds utilised in these songs. The magic trick is, it never sounds over the top, forced or overused. The care and love that’s gone into the lyrics is more than matched by these intricate arrangements.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on the haunting ballad “Familiar”. Fluttering, backwards guitar and pedal steel weave an eerie fog through which Berenyi’s vocal penetrates like a lighthouse at midnight. The experimental nature of this track is to be applauded, as it’s a whole new world to explore. If you are anything like me, you’ll find yourself reclining with this up loud in your headphones, eyes closed, soaking in every audacious note.

Let’s keep our eyes closed and enjoy the closing instrumental track, “We Told You”, a pulsing, syncopated synth pop anthem. Great swathes of discordant guitar wash over the vocal samples played by Moose on what he calls the “Miki-tron”. A fitting end to an album for a band pushing their sound up to the next level.

Love Drips & Gathers, named after a line in the Dylan Thomas poem “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower” was inspired by love, family, belonging and memory. That thread seamlessly weaves throughout the album, permeating every minute of every song. Yes, this album is more shoegaze than Brickbat but, man, it’s so much more than that limited genre signifier. It transcends the genre, bending and warping it into something immediately timeless and beautiful, and that’s what will keep you returning and returning again.

Love Drips & Gathers is out on Bella Union 23rd July 2021. You can grab your copy here.

You can follow Piroshka on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Written by: Mark Anderson

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