Review: Cruush Create Shoegaze for the Doomed Generation on Debut EP ‘Wishful Thinker’

Manchester’s cruush initially formed from the ashes of a “shitty Fresher’s event” and have been slowly gathering a following since.

First grabbing the attention of the UK’s tastemakers with their debut single, ‘Rinse’, the 4-piece have been drip-feeding releases to the world since. Their sound grew and matured over those four years, but despite releasing two epic tracks in 2022, ‘bckwrds 36’ & ‘False Start’, we still had to wait for their debut EP. As it arrived, it was more than worth the wait.

Entitled ‘Wishful Thinker’, released via the consistently excellent Heist or Hit label (think Her’s pizzagirl, Eades), it is 5 tracks of utter bliss. An emotional outpouring that feels both as comforting as a warm blanket and as cathartic as screaming into a pillow. 

The word that normally precedes any press release about Manchester’s cruush is shoegaze. There are some elements of that sound from the late 80s and early 90s; the dense, swirling soundscape of layered guitars and softer vocals are present on ‘Wishful Thinker’. However, to file it away as a shoegaze revival is just lazy. cruush have blended 80s indie, the sound of 90s Seattle and the gloom of Manchester suburbs to create something completely their own.

Front-person Amber Warren describes it best with quite possibly the music quote of the year: 

“I guess you can say our music has the sweet elements of having a crush on someone but the screeching of an industrial car crusher.”

On ‘Wishful Thinker’ cruush showcase this uniqueness as they create a soundscape to encapsulate all of our worries as young people today, large and small. Both the personal angst of trying to find love and the planetary existential dread that combine to make up the digital age we find ourselves in are intricately woven together. This EP presents an outpouring of emotion akin to shoegaze, but fit for the doomed generation.

Lofty words I know, but as the drums of Fotis Kalantzis kick in atop the swirling guitars of opener and title track, the stage is set. When Amber’s haunting vocals: “Oh it’s so easy, easy to settle down.” make a beeline for your heart, it takes all of 30 seconds for your headspace to become lost in a world of cruush’s creation. They won’t let you free for the next 18 minutes.

Softer acoustic guitars mark the beginning of ‘Growing Silver’, but only briefly as the full band immediately kick back in with real ferocity. They disappear as quickly as they came, however, leaving you with the space surrounding the acoustic chords once again. These varying volumes have the effect of mirroring our own internal anxious thoughts; as they chime in and out, almost out of control. It’s one of many examples across the EP where cruush have created such depth and detail to their sound to portray emotions beautifully.

‘Wishful Thinker’ continues straight into “Stick In The Mud”, which my esteemed colleague, Alicia Tomkinson, likened to the “marvel child between Wolf Alice and Portishead”. I have no better words than that immaculate description.

The pick of the EP comes next in the form of ‘Features’, the final single and a welcome calmer moment on the record. Originally the song was an Amber solo piece from her pre-uni days and it is the oldest song they have. It feels like the journey the band have been on thus far. Starting calm, building their skills and confidence into a flurry of glorious cacophony at the end of this 5-minute epic. 

It sets the scene for an encore of sorts, ‘Sombre By The Weekend’. Being able to discuss a song of this strength as an afterthought, shows the strength of the EP. It acts as a celebration, sitting in perfectly behind ‘Features’ as the stunning climax the record was building towards. 

‘Wishful Thinker’ is a collection of songs that not only blows your socks off right now, but leaves you desperate to see how cruush’s sound continues to evolve. An EP to savour and a clear line in the sand for a band just getting started.

The new issue of So Young is out now. You can purchase in print here or read the digital edition below.