It’s a bit loopy, but it wears its weirdness in a very attractive way.
Right, I’ll get this out of the way. The Beach Boys. The a capela arrangement introducing opening number, Something Should be Said reminds me very, very forcibly of the Beach Boys. Once this is out of the way a very strange (but very enjoyable) song unfurls, driven by a slightly bumptious beat and informed by some raucous, surfy guitars. There are even noises that could be dripping taps, or sampled jug, lordy…
This is a pop record, first and foremost. It’s a bit loopy, but it wears its weirdness in a very attractive way. The vocals sometimes having a manic, psychotic edge really helps too. Listen to the manic, bug-eyed Try To Understand for proof. This record has a formidable slacker vibe, but the slightly bucolic manner of tracks like Lost Words and The Void never irritates or grates. Indeed The Void is a monumental bliss-out, a strange sonic amalgamation of Tangerine Dream’s Wahn and the Velvets’ The Ocean. Similar quiet melancholy weirdness can be found on the campfire strum of To June or Modern African Queen.
There are moments that sound decidedly West Cost; the chord progression and angry guitar combination on Valient Brave sounds like something Buffalo Springfield could have come up with. 100 Years is a heady rocker, playing around with Stacey Sutherland-style guitar licks and abandoned wailing vocals. It’s just the right side of not-normal. Voodoo is a beautifully laid-back pop song, the guitars are in a high register, the melodies are never too saccharine and the beat is a confident shuffle that can’t help but get you tapping your toe.
A really top LP, sharp as a pin and aware of what it has to do: just don’t be fooled by the opening.