On its full-length, eponymous debut for Dionysus, Seattle's Lushy turns in an enjoyable set of cocktail-ish exotica that blends the usual influences -- French pop, Latin jazz, and kitschy instrumental flights of fancy -- with some accomplished playing and singing that saves the whole affair from the retread pile. Behind the cooing vocals of Annabella Kirby, Lushy's principals employ heaps of percussion (conga, bongos, trap kit, etc.), some cool, fuzzy 1960s electric guitar, lap steel, trumpet, and flute (the latter is especially important to the sharp-angled Technicolor crime fantasy "Bella Beretta," and both horns interplay nicely on the soft-focus ballad "Alibi"). It's often hard to separate Lushy's lite rock from contemporaries like Combustible Edison and the Mello Cads, or even from its forefathers Martin Denny or Juan Garcia Esquivel. But if any cocktail nation denizen's tongue isn't planted firmly in cheek, then he's probably sucking the blue cheese out of an olive. This notion forgives the predominance of wood blocks, scratchy guiro, and shimmering xylophones throughout Lushy, but doesn't necessarily let the combo off the hook for "Hidden Harbor"'s monkey noises. Sure, they worked great in Les Baxter's "Quiet Village." But some kitsch is best left in the moldering garage sale box from whence it came. Fortunately, Lushy lets its instrumental prowess and arranging skills guide it, rather than relying on camp to carry it through. The Latin rhythm and piano breaks of "Sand Pebble" are a nice touch, as is the warm horn work and spacy guitar of "Trip to Cannes." The song also contributes to Lushy's sense of self-parody. After detailing the expensive cheese, movie stars, and sun-drenched villas, Kirby describes her own arrival in the fancy French town -- in a station wagon. Album opener "French 75" also seems to smile at its own kicky genre qualities: Lyrically, it seems only to be a litany of cool-sounding French phrases and proper nouns. It's this confluence of the kooky and cool, the copping of influence cut with honest to goodness solid songwriting, that any neo-cocktail combo needs to survive. Lushy proves with its fun, fizzy debut that it can definitely chill behind the velvet rope.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus