Lucy Leave are the Oxford trio of Jenny Oliver and brothers Mike and Pete Smith. Debuting with ‘Look/Listen’ in Spring 2018, now teamed up with Divine Schism, they’re back with a real banger of a follow-up. Everyone Is Doing So Well instantly feels like the most apt record for the cusp of the decade. It bravely navigates mental health, the climate crisis, the rise of fascism and the dread in our hearts, whilst everyone appears to be doing great, in a manner that’s direct, personal and honest.
In ‘Trash Talk’, the gently punctuated bass line gets ripped up by the dramatic “Who gave you permission to speak to yourself like that? I can have you done for hate speech. (…) There should be a law against it”, building a tension between overlapping vocals and bass in an honest outcry against self-hate. ‘Centipede’ walks the line between a fuzzy funk beat and a classic indie pop track finishing off on a romantic guitar solo, whilst ‘Gymnastics Club’ carries a similar, soothing energy with a rhythmic guitar and the pulsating bass at the core of the track. “Everyone is doing so well!” bellow the opening lines of the album title track to grunge guitar and wonky percussion beats, bravely plunging into the open tackle of the world falling apart and the ice melting too fast to be doing well with an honest mash of punk energy.
The band experiment with rhythm, tempo and pitch through the record, scaling down and layering up vocals and beats that result in raucous jamming of ‘Pea Costume’, ‘Dream’ and ‘Permission Protest’, all three a rollercoaster ride of musical patterns and both angsty and powerful vocals. ‘Cruel’, charged up with the experimentation and angst of the record, falls back into entrancing rhythmic choruses with already familiar layers.
‘King Charles I Returns’ stands out with the first listen, the historical angle an excuse for a gorgeous, stripped down lullaby of a folk love song quite unlike anything else on the album. ‘Soul Banger’ follows with the similar pace but steers us back on the course of the album with its fuzzy guitar and layered beats. This gem peppered feast ends with the brilliant ‘Grandma 2’, constituting one of my favourite song titles of all time. The album’s final track submerges us in psychedelic crashes with punk splashing loudly into noise and subtle nostalgic weeps of guitar shredded by squealing riffs.
Divine Schism’s first release is a record that’s deep and meaningful – a total world of mashed up sounds, pitches and riffs, a great, fun and relevant kickstarter to the new decade.
Review by Anna Siemiaczko