Piroshka – Brickbat (2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 43:17 minutes | 516 MB | Genre: Shoegaze, Dreampop, Indie Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Bella Union
From the crushed and pulverised skulls of our conquered enemies rises the promise of a new dawn,” Miki Berenyi grins. “OK, no, maybe keep it simple. Clean slate, fresh start – it’s all about the music.”” From four individual parts, with distinct musical pasts but also overlapping histories, a new unified chapter begins with Piroshka and the quartet’s thrilling debut album Brickbat. The album is named after the word for a missile, which nails the record’s heavyweight lyrics if not the music’s gorgeous, bittersweet and euphoric pop. Think of Brickbat as a wolf in sheep’s clothing – which suits the name Piroshka, the Hungarian take on the wolf-terrorised fairytale hero Little Red Riding Hood – a subtle nod, too, to a certain red hairdo that stood out in the 1990s Brit-guitar-pop scene….” Together, from feedbacking intro to the beautifully fuggy dream that is the album finale ‘She’s Unreal’, Piroshka and Brickbat are a wonderful and, frankly, unexpected union of proven talent.
Piroshka — the project of Lush’s Miki Berenyi, Elastica’s Justin Welch, Moose’s K.J. McKillop, and Modern English’s Mick Conroy — was born out of nostalgia: In 2016, Berenyi, Welch, and Conroy had just finished Lush’s reunion tour and wanted to keep making music together. However, the band’s debut album, Brickbat, is resolutely forward-thinking. While the resurrected Lush felt careful not to disappoint longtime fans on the Blind Spot EP, Piroshka revel in the fact that this time, there are no lines to color within, and their candid, unpredictable pop is all the more refreshing for it. When the band draws on its collective past, the results feel like they’ve evolved a generation or two. “Run for Your Life” brings more urgency to its clouds of guitar and Berenyi’s vocals than Lush ever mustered. “Village of the Damned” trades effects pedals for trumpets, and the string-laden regrets of “Blameless” build on shoegaze’s vast scope, if not its exact sound. However, many of the album’s brightest highlights are very much of their time. No album released in the late 2010s would be complete without a take on the era’s issues, and Brickbat unleashes the sharp-tongued perspective Berenyi brought to Lush’s “Hypocrite” and “Ladykillers” on bigger targets. Brexit is the most prominent issue in Piroshka’s crosshairs, inspiring the opening rant “This Must Be Bedlam,” a track written by McKillop that sets national dissent and social media feuds to a stomping glam-rock beat, and “What’s Next?,” where the mood of isolation feels equally specific and universal. Elsewhere, the spiky guitars and pointed words the band uses to skewer greed and inequality on “Never Enough” reaffirm that frustration is a potent muse for Piroshka, and when Berenyi sings “I am love” on “Hated by the Powers That Be,” it feels downright subversive. Later, Piroshka explore more complicated ideas of togetherness and separation with some of their most cleverly crafted songs, whether it’s the painful but necessary letting go between parent and child on “Heartbeats” or the shifting power dynamics of a loveless marriage conveyed by the circular lyrics of “Everlastingly Yours.” Even on these quieter moments, Brickbat’s invigorated feel is palpable — and contagious. It would’ve been easy for the members of Piroshka to rest on their laurels, but they prove they have a lot of new ideas to offer their listeners, regardless of how familiar they may be with the band’s previous work. As it takes the band’s collective strengths in different directions, Brickbat explodes the notion that they can only re-create their past glories. ~ Heather Phares
01. This Must Be Bedlam
02. Village of the Damned
03. Never Enough
05. What’s Next?
06. Hated by the Powers That Be
07. Run for Your Life
09. Everlastingly Yours
10. She’s Unreal