With its fifth record, Oxford's Heavenly treads through musical ground already well-covered by Lush. Four years ago, when the band hit stateside with Le Jardin de Heavenly and the subsequent EP P.U.N.K. Girl, the band already sounded a bit like Lush: swirling guitars, "ethereal" vocals and dark lyrics. Still, the group maintained its own impish appeal: the music was slightly angrier, rawer -- not quite so pretty. Now, with Operation Heavenly, you can't tell the two bands apart. Lush's last album, Lovelife, was a mess -- the band couldn't decide whether it wanted to maintain its shoegazer status or turn into a cocky Britpack band ŕ la Pulp or Oasis. Operation Heavenly follows the same sloppy patterns. "Mark Angel" in particular, is a direct rip-off of "Ladykillers," and Lush should sue. Elsewhere, there are a couple of bright spots -- the rough and ready "K-Klass Kisschase" and Calvin Johnson's droll vocals on "Pet Monkey" -- but it's sad that, following the suicide of bandmate Matthew Fletcher, the remaining members couldn't unify for a stronger, more cohesive effort.
Written by Rachel Leibrock Davis for Allstar/Rocktropolis