Tearing Water by Lovecup is a truly fantastic record. Sure, it’s 27 years old, you’ve probably never heard it before it, it’s attracted fewer than 2,500 views since someone posted it on YouTube nine years ago and the band stayed pretty obscure outside of Illinois for most of their brief existence – but all that’s irrelevant. All that means is that some undeserving band somewhere is having all the luck and success that was due to Lovecup. Because this single is devastatingly good; blasting off with feedback like a V12 accelerating through the gears before exploding with a laser-precise rhythm section, raw, anguished vocals and a constant, kaleidoscopic maelstrom of tight, throaty guitar chops bearing down on you at the speed of sound. It takes your breath away. And it never gets old either – take it from someone who’s listened to it over and over for more than two decades.
Tearing Water came to my ears via a mix-tape of rare cuts some forgotten person put together for me in the early-nineties. That tape was a fixture in every shitty car I had with a tape deck for the next 20 years, with Lovecup as the enduring highlight. The tape’s still around, although these days a lot of it plays backwards.
Tearing Water was Lovecup’s debut single, backed with the also excellent Juggernaut (current YouTube views – 120). A few years ago the band’s only other release – their 1994 album Grefus, Gronks and Sheet belatedly became available to download and more recently, a Lovecup Bandcamp page appeared. This featured their solitary album and a bunch of their demos and practice tapes. A lot of this stuff is a joy too and well worth checking out. Lovecup had talent in abundance and a sound that seemed simultaneously distinctive and tailor-made for success in the post-grunge, mid-nineties.
This stack of new material prompted me to track down Mark Baldwin, Lovecup’s guitarist and vocalist to find out what went wrong. He explained, “We had quite a bit of (what we thought was) great material for a 2nd album, which Warner Bros. had already signed us to a demo deal for – but we couldn’t escape some interpersonal issues (as early 20-somethings often can’t) and split up before doing anything more.”
So sadly, that was that. Mark doesn’t seem bitter about this, even though he has every right to be, and he’s responsible for getting Lovecup’s unreleased output onto Bandcamp. He rates Tearing Water getting played by the legendary John Peel as a highlight for the band – “That was exciting for us and an honour. We immediately got bombarded with letters and postcards from England and Ireland”. It also got them onto Peel’s Festive Fifty for 1992. For those who don’t know, that was an annual Peel feature over the Christmas holidays in which he’d play the top 50 records of the year, as voted for by his listeners. Lovecup made it in at number 36, just above Pavement’s Summer Babe.
So Lovecup did get some recognition after all, and made an impression on more than just me and whoever compiled that mix tape. And whatever band ended up getting Lovecup’s luck, I doubt they put out anything anywhere near as good Tearing Water, an exhilarating blast of turbo-charged grunge that still sounds incredible after a thousand listens.