In what could have been a means to deflect a slow release schedule, 4AD started rolling out compilations of some of their deep catalog bands in 2000 and 2001. Cocteau Twins were first, followed by Heidi Berry and Modern English. In early 2001, 4AD released Ciao! 1989-1996, a collection of Lush's finest moments. Evenly taking four to five songs from each of the band's three proper studio records and their early EPs compilation (Gala), Ciao is a decent summary of the band's eight-year existence, collecting most of their singles, several album cuts, and one of their better B-sides (a cover of the Gist's "Love at First Sight"). The tracks run in reverse chronology, starting with the confident, no frills, straight-ahead pop of "Ladykillers" and ending with the wispy haze of "Etheriel." Pop songs were always at the heart of Lush's songs, but the distortion, buried vocals, and general trickery gradually weathered away with each of their successive releases. So listening to Ciao uninterrupted plays like a photograph slowly going out of focus. A longtime fan's general preference might find a bone or two to pick with the selection, but that's always a hazard with a portable introduction. Those who go on to check out the band's studio albums on the strength of Ciao will be happy to discover several strong songs, so Ciao hardly drains the pool. Lush seemingly had a couple fine records left in them when drummer Chris Acland took his life, but one listen to Ciao paints a complete picture.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman