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Entire albums spent exploring the depths of the various nasty things surrounding romantic relationships were nothing new by the mid-'90s, but the vaguely cinematic and slightly conceptual Split is something more. Perhaps it's the manner in which each distinctive song manages to melt into the next. Or maybe it's the across-the-board improvements over Spooky. Most knew they were capable of more after the decent but flawed record, but it's doubtful many could have predicted something this thoroughly wonderful and varied. Throughout, Lush sounds confident and downright muscular, as opposed to the feathery wisps of earlier material that could be knocked down with the slightest of breezes. Miki Berenyi's high-heaven vocals have increased range, power, and presence. Chris Acland's drums propel the proceedings more than before, perhaps pushed into better realms by new bassist Phil King. Producer Mike Hedges knows just what to do with the band's elements, adding grace and balance that no other could previously achieve. Kudos as well to a bang-up job by mixmaster Alan Moulder. It's an ardent roller coaster ride, centered around the lengthy mourners "Desire Lines" (oddly a single) and "Never-Never," which clock in at eight minutes apiece. Berenyi effectively conveys the resigned and soul-deadened nature of the lyrics. "Blackout" and "Hypocrite" prove the band's ability to be more assaultive, laying the foundation for their sound on Lovelife. Through breezy pop ("Lit Up"), brief shards of electrocuting dread ("Invisible Man"), and tales of obsessive voyeurism ("Starlust"), Split touches on most forms of emotional turbulence. Not necessarily a comeback but certainly a legitimizing stunner, the record prevented the band from being lost amidst the bunker of form-over-function dream pop bands. Split shattered every negative aspect of those failed acts with flying colors. A fantastic record within any realm.

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