A super-group like this was never gonna please every fan of each of the members' previous bands. Whatever music ended up on the debut from Piroshka, Brickbat, out on Friday via Bella Union, was sure to disappoint someone. Whether it's a fan of Lush (guitarist and vocalist Miki Berenyi), or a fan of Moose (guitarist KJ “Moose” McKillop), or a devotee of Elastica (drummer Justin Welch), or even a fan of 4AD legends Modern English (bassist Mick Conroy), someone was going to play this and gripe. So, going in to this, from whatever angle you're approaching it, realize that it's not the second coming of any of those bands, but it is a remarkably listenable record, full of real throwback charm and a few genuinely great hooks.
From the faux-glam stomp of opener "This Must Be Bedlam" and on to chiming lead single "Everlastingly Yours", one realizes this is really Miki's show. And for those of us who loved Lush, particularly Lovelife (1996), that's great news as it almost feels like a follow-up to that final Lush LP. And, yeah, some of this, like the punchy "Never Enough", sounds a lot like Miki's old band, but maybe that's enough, especially once Berenyi's coo kicks in over Welch's pounding drums on the deliberately-propulsive "Run For Your Life", for example, and a listener thinks back to "Ladykillers" from 1996. Elsewhere, the superb "Hated By The Powers That Be" nicks the hook of "Kiss Chase" from Split (1994) in the service of one of the very brightest numbers here, with all the players sending things into overdrive, while the lighter "Village of the Damned" offers up a really lovely melodic line of the sort that one found on the more down-tempo Lush numbers.
All throughout Brickbat one hears echoes of earlier masterpieces peeking through the seams of these fairly decent numbers. If there's no "Melt With You" or "Connection" here, that's okay given how easy this record is to enjoy. Familiar in the right ways, and yet still different enough to suggest new territory found and tentatively explored, Brickbat gets a listener wanting more from this new band, and I can think of no higher praise than that. Whether this was a one-off or not, I don't know, but I really do hope that Mike Berenyi stays around because lots and lots of these songs really did the trick for me.
Brickbat is out on Friday via Bella Union.
More details on Piroshka via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Uncredited promotional image from Facebook]