Gala by Lush
It's common for people involved in a music scene to hang journalists off balconies for considering them part of said music scene. It happened with grunge, new wave, and most relevant to today, it happened to shoegaze. Leave it to a bunch of journalists to come up with what sounds like a fetish for a genre name, and bands it was applied to didn't take too kindly to it. At the same time, these kids were drawing on Phil Spector and The Jesus and Mary Chain and constructing some of the finest walls of sound of the decade. Boy, did we get some really great albums out of it. Just look at their legacy!—a million droning, boring, faggy, dream-popper indie kids who have more reverb pedals than song ideas, and a Finelines follow-up that we're still waiting on. ...Okay, so maybe shoegaze has seen better days, but boy, did we get some really great albums out of it.
Lush is probably the most girlish and ethereal of the big four of shoegaze, owing to the shimmering lead guitars and dual female vocals of Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, and 1990's Gala is a stateside-released compilation of their first three EPs, Scar, Mad Love, and Sweetness and Light, in reverse chronological order. In a way, Sweetness and Light is probably the weakest stretch of this disc, being an overproduced mess that leaves a bit of a bad first impression, but the other two EPs fare much better. "De-Luxe" is the first flash of brilliance, with its harmonies and smouldering middle eight. "Leaves Me Cold" and "Downer" remind us of Lush's post-punk roots, and the entire stretch of Scar is even better, even if every song (stroke "Thoughtforms") is probably about fucking. Highly recommended listening—the dream-poppers could stand to learn from it.