It's probably counterproductive for Tampa five-piece Lush Progress to have named their new album something that brings to mind an amalgam of elevator music and German ambient-schmaltzers Tangerine Dream, but give them credit for honesty: They don't hide who or what they are.
Led by Drew Cutler's delicate, droopy-lidded lounge falsetto and compositions that call for both symphonic hubris and total band deference, Lush Progress wants to be your good-night kiss. Tracks like "The Ocean, My Mother," "Even Now" and "Tired Eyes" play like GHB slipped into the cocktails of My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Rós and the Bee Gees by a comeback-hungry Phil Spector. Only the soaring guitar work of Cutler and Adam Husarek saves Elevator Dream from drifting, wobbly-legged and confused, into the territory of second-rate Pet Sounds knockoffs. There's just no need for three-minute orchestral outros on nearly every song, and by the time the Gregorian surrealism of "Paranoiac Criticism" gets to its detuned electro-violin climax, the overreach is laughable.
It's commendable to aim for the skies, but Lush Progress needs to forgive themselves for their acute pop instincts. The one song that doesn't devolve into compensatory studio tricks and bombast — the tightly wound, key-heavy singalong "Pop Song" — is titled with tongue firmly in cheek. Yes, it's a pop song, but what a great one it is, thanks to an off-kilter beat, spastic horns and ultra- melodic verses.
In fact, every track on Elevator Dream contains the seedlings of terrific pop flora, but Lush Progress can't get out of their own way. It's the songwriting that makes their music so lush, not the multilayered monkey business.[email protected]