Lush Life album cover

Gimme, Gimme

fighting morning grogginess and existential dread with the belair lip bombs’ album, lush life

By Sophie Abeles


It’s a frigid Tuesday morning in mid-November. I step onto the M train and plop down in an open seat, readjusting my headphones to fit over earrings of slightly tarnished silver. I’m grasping for any kind of newness in my Spotify, clicking in and out of suggested playlists like “Trending Albums for You” and “Fresh New Music” when my boyfriend, an indie and alt-rock sad-boy-music fanatic, sends me a text with a link to the song “Say My Name” by The Belair Lip Bombs.

I’m skeptical, but I click the song link anyway. The Belair Lip Bombs’ Spotify photo tugs at a not-so-distant memory; I know this band. I search vigorously through my liked songs and find “Stay Or Go” a few scrolls down the list. I pop it on and am transported back to a recent trip I took to Wellfleet, Massachusetts. My friends and I piled into a borrowed family car (yes, it was a Subaru) and drove five hours to the farthest reach of Cape Cod before Provincetown. We had been driving for a little over an hour when a song played that caught my attention. It sounded like a mix between 4 Non Blondes and Alvvays. I lunged forward from the back seat. “Who’s this?”

“A band called The Belair Lip Bombs. It’s a song off their new album Lush Life.” My boyfriend held up his phone to show me a black and white album cover depicting four twenty-somethings spinning on a merry-go-round.

I lean back slowly and find myself bolstered by the cold plastic of a subway seat. I’m listening to “Say My Name,” contented by the powerful vocals of the band’s lead singer, Maisie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cranky; it’s 9:00 AM, I’m on my way to work, and it’s cold and dreary outside. But Maisie has me sufficiently distracted from the existential dread that is riding the train into the city for a day’s work. She isn’t whisper-singing or scream-belting like many respected female vocalists in her genre; she is a resonant mezzo warrior embracing her low range. Maisie calls her band to attention and releases them between verse and chorus: “I wanna live in a lush life way / I wanna live it with you / I wanna hear you say my name.” Her bandmates rise to the challenge, gliding effortlessly between tame and all-out energy, leaving room for Maisie to shine when it matters most. I’m hooked.

I picture myself jumping in circles in a crowded concert hall and pointing at random strangers while listening to “Gimme Gimme.” “I want your money / want your ego baby!” I bob my head up and down and smirk, refreshed by the lyrics’ shameless display of the selfishness that often accompanies lust and infatuation: “Gimme the life that I want! I want your love / Want you to be my baby!”

I’m daydreaming about moshing when “World Is The One” rips me out of my reverie. This track feels like one of those indoor roller coasters that blasts music and subjects riders to a strobe light show en route, except I’m not confused or seeing stars after—I just want to get back in line and do it all over again. One minute and fifty-one seconds of head-banging guitar and dissonant vocals are the perfect anecdote to morning grogginess.

The subway screeches along dutifully, pausing now and again to allow new passengers aboard. Riders glance around nervously, shifting their eyes to windows or back down to phone screens. I think about how hard it is for people to be vulnerable—maybe now more than ever. Cue “Easy On The Heart,” which starts with a wandering and curious bassline; we’re exploring a touchy topic. “Tell me that you love me / I know it’s easier to tell me that you like me.” Maisie’s vocals are light and airy in this one. She gets it. Expressing your feelings to another person is terrifying, especially if they’re pursuing stardom. “I know you feel the same way / ‘Cause I asked you one more time / And now my conscience says hey so / Fame, won't you come to me today.” It’s a delicate balance—being vulnerable while protecting yourself—and one in which things are often left unsaid: “I never got your message but I’m sorry if you tried.” The drums offset the bassline with sneaky fills and syncopated rhythms that sound a lot like the heartbeat of a person in love.

As my train crawls towards Manhattan, the guitars of “Look The Part” take center stage. They burn through Maisie’s cries as she circles the drain: “Every day that I’m wasting away / Every day it’s the same funny game / I went to your house / I went, I want you to figure it out.” The angst and anger of being stuck in a hopeless pattern, unable to snap out of it, are paramount here. I recall times when I spent much too long waiting for some person to notice me when I should have changed course. I throw the thought away, grateful that Maisie is doing some powerful complaining on my behalf, and readjust my earphones to wait for the next song.

I’ve made it to “Walking Away,” a song where Maisie and the rest of the band are in perfect sync. Following each other up and down dark, melodic staircases, the song is tight and technical, yet expressive. Here, Maisie shows off, her voice fortified by straight, staccato guitar hits. She’s talk-singing and using her falsetto at the end of phrases to target the song's subject: “Now I’ve got some things I’ve to say / Why you always walkin’, why you always runnin’ away?”

The Belair Lip Bombs via

While accusing in its lyrical content, the next track “Things That You Did” flexes a bright contrast of upbeat guitar riffs, cutesy vocals, and echoing harmonies. “She told me ‘bout the things that you did; it’s you!” Maisie’s caught the perp red-handed, and she’s taunting him, and I’m along for the ride. Switching seamlessly between her lower and upper registers, Maisie is both intimidating and alluring. The bassline follows her with chastising, pinpoint accuracy. The whole band knows the details of this person’s inadmissible act, and they’re not letting him get away with it. I imagine this guy with his tail between his legs running for the hills when the song draws to a close.

My train approaches the next stop. The doors open and close at Hewes Street, and some of my angst has faded away. I’m listening to “Lucky Nine,” hoping my train gets stuck—I’m busy with the Lip Bombs, okay? Maisie’s talking to a hypothetical man who *sigh* has wronged her. We don’t explicitly know what happened, just that Maisie is considering ways to get out of this situationship with a man she doesn’t fully trust: “Sympathetic mister / I know that you miss her,” and later, “I could die, it’d be shameless / I could run, it would save this.” I scold her internally: Leave him! It’s not worth it! But alas, no one is as strong as they think in the face of love: “I could try but every time / Well every time I just sit around and say / Can you say the words to me? / Live forever happily.”

We cross into Manhattan, eventually reaching the Broadway-Lafayette stop. This is me. I stifle a groan, hoisting myself out of my seat as the last song begins: “Suck It In.” I step off the train and am reminded amid the potent subway smells of piss and sweat that “sometimes [I’ve] gotta take the hit,” and that each day can be “so good” and “so tragic” at the same time. That’s the lush life.