Clash (magazine) - "The opener, 'Low Hanging Fruit', is a moody, sombre, yet hypnotic offering with an ominous bass line."
Personnel: James Ardery (vocals, guitar); Joel Myers (vocals, piano, synthesizer, drums); Jonathan Schenke (synthesizer).
Audio Mixer: Jonathan Schenke.
Recording information: Echo Canyon.
On What Am I Doing?, Lushes gave their experiments free reign, but on Service Industry, they're bound by a common theme. Recorded during a time of personal and financial stress, James Ardery and Joel Myers' second album expands on their flair for giving their freewheeling songs emotional heft. This time they work with a palette of anxiety, tedium, and rage -- not the prettiest colors in the mood paint box, but they use them boldly. It's clear that Service Industry's contents are under pressure: Myers and Ardery sound like they're at odds with everything, even (maybe especially) themselves. The feeling that they're looking for a fight permeates songs like the ode to instant gratification "Low Hanging Fruit," where deadpan vocals jostle against surging riffs and an abrasive violin that evokes shredded nerves. Myers' drums land like blows on "Auction" and "Check," but Service Industry isn't just about volume. Instead, Lushes polarize the album's sounds and moods, juxtaposing drudgery and rebellion, explosions and hollowed-out aftermaths. Indeed, several of Service Industry's most striking moments are quiet, capturing the uneasy yet tedious feeling of life passing by in dribs and drabs. With the refrain "Grey tiles, take me home," "Grey Tiles" could be an office worker's spiritual; the sickly drone that lingers in the background on "Hyperaware" is as persistent as the buzz of fluorescent lights. As powerful as songs such as the wearily beautiful "Bleach" can be, Lushes are still at their best when they play with dynamic contrast. "You Only Have" pits lumbering existential angst against pummeling skree, recalling the sudden outburst in Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop" -- another song inspired by desperate working stiffs. "Circus," meanwhile, plays like a more grown-up version of What Am I Doing?, with Zs' Sam Hillmer adding a tinge of free jazz with his saxophone. The seven-minute "Shed Weight" is another standout, moving from tender to abrasive as it plunges into drums and feedback. While Service Industry's grinding intensity isn't always as much fun as What Am I Doing?, in many ways it's more realized, proving that Lushes' powers as one of the most expressive bands out there are only growing. ~ Heather Phares