Candy Gram Music 2022
American psych-explorers steer their intrepid enterprise through parsecs of make-believe and make it safely back for album number three.
Don’t be fooled by the title of this platter by a high-flying Californian ensemble: “3” doesn’t simply signify its place in their discography: given that the titles of the team’s previous records – their debut “The Freshman” from 2016 and their sophomore release, 2018’s “Further” – had “F” at the start, “3” should surely mean “Free” because there’s no better word to describe the album’s flow. Also, don’t be fooled by the disc’s cover artwork: its interstellar drift doesn’t feel so much sci-fi-informed, despite the space-rock tropes involved on the sonic level, as dynamically driven via contrasting fantasies of the collective’s masterminds who defy conventions in the humor department where the fate of humanity is concerned.
Don’t be fooled, then, by the cosmic solemnity of opener “Jackfix” that threads its heavy jive through thick strands of NO Mansfield’s six strings and Olga Schubert’s hypnotically hazy ivories and weaves vocal wonders through effervescent effects. Don’t – as such theatricality will be undermined once the infectious riffs of “Puppy” offer a reggae-tinctured stroll, but not before “Electric” prods its jamboree with Neil Nyberg’s bass and smears the bottom-line buzz with Scott Page’s sax to sound brazenly jubilant, and not before the acoustic frill of “My Living Brain” breaks the acid-drenched mold with its Dylanesque balladry. There’s also the funny, histrionically hefty, penultimate cut “Pappa Fell Down” to deal with false seriousness of the pulsing “Little Red Dolls” and the harmonica-spiced “Hover” that juxtapose the jovial swirl of “Spiral Galaxies” with a raga-hued groove which David “Dekay” Kendrick’s drums push and shove beyond “Pushing” and its bluesy edge.
Unfortunately, “The Beast Inside” sees the album’s finale flushed down the atmosphere, the preceding tuneful slant removed in favor of somewhat abstract noise drowning voices in a non-too-melodic quagmire as if to not leave the listener too mesmerized by the beauty of this freedom flight. Yet don’t be fooled by the turn of events: it’s all part of a greater play the Californians are so good at – their course is unerringly correct.