Lickerish Quartet is a collision of former members of Jellyfish and/or offshoots of Jellyfish, two categories you’ll often find in the same record collection. Jellyfish lasted long enough for two albums; a posthumous box set of live cuts, demos, and collaborations rounded out the band’s legacy, but still left a lot of potential on the table. Many a Jellyfish fan (like the scruffy fellow I occasionally spy in mirrors and other reflective surfaces) obsessively follows the individual former members of the group through their solo careers and later work with other artists – and sometimes minor family reunions like this one. With Jellyfish founding member Roger Manning and Spilt Milk-members (and former Umajets) Tim Smith and Eric Dover aboard, Lickerish Quartet is indeed something of a family reunion. The plan is for the band to gradually write, record, and release a series of EPs, each supported by fan pre-orders, so that the end result will be about an album’s worth of music.
Threesome Vol. 1 is the first of those, with the “threesome” in the title describing the band; “quartet” is actually a better description of the number of songs on this first volume, somewhat confusingly. But that’s the kind of perversely anarchic humor that we’re expecting from Jellyfish alumni, right?
That sense of humor also extends into the first song, “Fadoodle”, whose lyrics can best be summed up as “I cleaned house and did some chores, can I get laid now?” (Pro tip: guys…you should be doing your share of the housework because it’s part of the unspoken social contract of sharing space with other human beings, not because you’re expecting sex at the end of said chore.) Maybe I’m just showing my age here, but these lyrics and their dancing-between-sung-and-spoken-word delivery didn’t land with me, even though the music itself is fine; there’s a great bass line that makes it all incredibly catchy, and the instrumental bridge may be the best thing about the song.
“Bluebird’s Blues” is a definite improvement, and perhaps should’ve been first song (though I do get it, if you’re banking on the Jellyfish connection, “Fadoodle” sounds more whimsical and Jellyfish-esque than anything else here). Together with “There Is A Number”, “Bluebird’s Blues” really digs into that ’70s power-pop sound, which is really what I hope to hear out of a reunion of any configuration of Jellyfish, a lot more than I hope to hear whimsy. They’re both excellent songs, though I get a chuckle out of the first lyric in “There Is A Number”: “I never meant to cause you too much pain.” Is there really some acceptable amount of pain one can cause others before a line is crossed? (As with the playful lyrics of “Fadoodle”, I’m probably overthinking it here.)
“Lighthouse Spaceship” was the song most heavily promoted prior to the EP’s release, and with good reason: where “Bluebird’s Blues” and “There Is A Number” are classic bittersweet ballads, “Lighthouse Spaceship” is a straight-up, unapologetic rocker that reaches for – and just about achieves – a late ’60s/early ’70s psychedelic rock flavor with both its lyrics and its instrumentation. At over six minutes, I get why this wasn’t the lead track, but it seems obvious that the band realized this was the strongest thing in this particular track listing.
It’s all worth a listen, and perhaps best of all is the promise that more from this lineup – and perhaps even better material – is yet to come.
- Fadoodle (3:46)
- Bluebird’s Blues (4:31)
- There Is A Magic Number (4:14)
- Lighthouse Spaceship (6:26)
Released by: InGrooves / Label Logic
Release date: May 15, 2020
Total running time: 18:57