“For me, I think our music is kind of [responding] to what we face in society, this political situation—it’s more like our reaction,” says the Hong Kong shoegaze act on their self-titled debut
WORDS BY JAM PASCUAL
ILLUSTRATION BY MC GALANG
Two successful Japanese tours plus shows in the US and UK were supposed to clear the path for Lucid Express, formerly known as Thud. The Hong Kong shoegaze band has made a name for themselves with their 2018 releases “Ado” and “Sit Still.”
Then COVID-19 struck. Most bands living in this time know the feeling, watching a horizonless path stretch out before them as time lurches onward, reckoning with the next step. Thud became Lucid Express, and started to work on their self-titled debut album, out on July 16 via Singapore-based record label Middle Class Cigars.
The 10-track LP has been in the works for three years now, with a good bulk of it written in quarantine circumstances. The band worked mostly in their small Kwai Hing practice space, recording and rehearsing in twilight hours, sort of processing everything that was happening.
“I think in this album we learned a lot,” says Andy, on guitars. “We learned how to pick the sound more accurately. And about arrangement, this one is more spiritual.”
Truly, there’s a mystical quality to Lucid Express’s sound, and the first clue is the LP’s album art, ocean waves in photo negative. Soaked in synths and echoic guitars, the sound is all-consuming. Some shoegaze acts fall flat by blasting walls of sound that do nothing but disorient. Lucid Express rises up like a high wave and crashes down. With dynamic composition, the band easily shifts from serenity to wilderness, while still sounding cavernous, like a seaside cove.
“Mostly it’s about the experience of growing up,” says vocalist and lyricist Kim. “And also I know that something happened, regarding our music adventure. We faced something together. Some songs—like, ‘Wellwave’ is about that. ‘Wellwave’ is about how we faced the hardships regarding making music.”
“Wellwave” and “Hollowers” feat. Adam Honingford were the first two singles of the LP to come out. Their most recent single “Hotel 65” is a heartbreak tune that, like the singles that came before it, is impressionistic and abstract. Rivulet riffs carry little statements of grief in “Hotel 65”—”Hold me tight at remember 65 / It’s the first of snow / Time was going slow.”
“Mostly it’s about the experience of growing up… I know that something happened, regarding our music adventure. We faced something together. Some songs—like, ‘Wellwave’ is about that. ‘Wellwave’ is about how we faced the hardships regarding making music.”
Inevitably, the political situation of Hong Kong played into the band’s creative process. Behind the fuzz and reverb—inspired by the likes of Slow Dive, Yuck, and The Bilinda Butchers—is a subtext of crisis. On how the band allowed their circumstances to seep into their music, guitarist Sky says, “For me, I think our music is kind of [responding] to what we face in society, this political situation—it’s more like our reaction. I think we didn’t have an idea directly related to those things, but I think it’s kind of like, passively expressing our feeling in the songs.” An encroaching thought in the periphery. Every now and then, you need something loud and beautiful to drown it all out.
Lucid Express will be released on 16 July 2021 on limited-edition turquoise cassettes and all digital platforms via Middle Class Cigars in Asia, and on Kanine Records everywhere else. Preorder here. Our special thanks to Middle Class Cigars and photographer Katy Ng.