Words by:
Photography: Loéila Duboc

Merging sugary sweet melodies with surging, caustic noise, Manchester band Cruush are abandoning overthinking in favour of artistic freedom and having a nice time, all the time

Cruush will play co-signed — a live music showcase spotlighting local Manchester talent curated in collaboration with Smirnoff — this Wednesday 3 July at one of the city’s best independent venues, Band on the Wall. RSVP for free via this link and we’ll see you there.

“People assume shoegaze is just reverb and delay,” says Charlie Marriott, the bassist of fast-rising Manchester band Cruush. “But you can do way more with it than just the stereotypical sound.” Although their name might be frequently mentioned alongside those of fellow feedback fans like NewDad and Wisp to give credence to the current shoegaze revival, the four-piece look far beyond the bruising walls of sound and corrosive waves of fuzz associated with the genre.

Cruush formed in 2018 – the band’s founding members meeting while at the Manchester branch of BIMM – with Marriott completing the line-up last year. Since then, they have released a string of singles and EPs that have documented their growth. As they’ve expanded and subtly experimented with their sound, they’ve evolved from self-releasing their music to working with Manchester indie label, Heist or Hit. Their 2021 track Chewed transforms from gleaming, intricate indie reminiscent of early Wolf Alice into a scorching frenzy of battling guitars, while 2023’s Growing Silver toys with quiet-loud dynamics in a way that makes its frequent shifts feel exhilaratingly brutal. Since then, they’ve levelled up further, broadening their sound to encompass a more liberated approach to songwriting: “We used to be like, ‘Let’s write two songs that sound like this’ – less fun things happen when you think too much about it. Now, it’s a bit more of a free-for-all,” guitarist Arthur Boyd notes. The resulting EPs, Wishful Thinker and Nice Things Now, All The Time, merge sugary sweet melodies with surging, caustic noise, switching lanes and unfolding with a thrilling unpredictability. 

The palette of sounds they draw from is made up of longtime favourites, like Smashing Pumpkins, Alvvays (“We’re always trying to sound like them,” Boyd jokes) and Kate Bush. The latter is particularly important to singer and guitarist Amber Warren: “Her harmonies and her vocals are just amazing – I can only dream of being that good!” On As She Grows, though, she makes a strong bid for her own vocal excellence. Inspired by Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies poetry collection, it uses a spritely character as a jumping-off point to paint a portrait of summer escape. “The majority of people are in better moods when the sun’s shining and we all flock to sit in a sunny patch,” Warren shares.

Although Cruush are getting their own moment in the light right now, the band are keeping themselves tethered to reality. “We’re not delusional – we know we’re still going to need to work,” bassist Fotis Kalantzis says, pointing to the difficulties of making money through music in 2024. As opportunities come to them, the band are also trying to balance making the most of their chances with doing what they think is right – a tricky thing to juggle when the challenges of being a DIY band right now are already daunting.  

Warren is the band’s de facto manager and booking agent, taking on group admin alongside writing, rehearsing, recording and working her own day job. “It feels like a lot of work, because you’ve got to think about where we’re staying, how we’re affording to get to each place, budgeting,” she sighs, as Kalantzis puts out a tongue-in-cheek plea for a manager. He nods to the title of their latest EP, Nice Things Now, All The Time, to illustrate the band’s level-headed approach to their future: “We don’t want to screw anybody over – we just want to have a nice time, all the time.” 

Sounds like: Sun-bleached shoegaze. Shoehaze? Sungaze?
Soundtrack for: Getting lost in the weeds of your own imagination
File next to: NewDad, Alvvays
Our favourite song: Growing Silver
Where to find them: @cruushband

Cruush play co-signed, our party with Smirnoff, on Wednesday 3 July at Band on the Wall in Manchester. RSVP for free here.