Wasn't sure about this latest album from this influential NY bunch on first listen but after around six or seven plays it is knocking the stuffing out of my mind with its laconic psychedelic beauty and freewheeling charm. It's possibly their finest work since 2010's 'At Echo Lake' to these ears but our ReviewBot would just scoff and say everything they do is absolutely indispensable and he may well be acutely correct!
Check the falsetto'd psychedelic tearjerker of a title track which kicks off the set and comes bearing a similar gait to 'Deserter's Songs'-era Mercury Rev, spliced seamlessly with the lead track off the (possibly long-forgotten) Parsley Sound EP, 'Platonic Rate’ (from the same era), yet lightly burnished with your distinctive Woods-y acid-fried shamble...what a gorgeous opener!!
Onwards we march through sunny groves of beautifully catchy country rock, rustic Byrdsian "lost" classics and rousing but sad-eyed folk-pop that would melt the heart of, say, any Teenage Fanclub fan yet these songs possess a lyrically bleak and rueful underbelly. Then 'Cascade' suddenly shifts mood being a chiming psych instrumental that weighs in some-place between Richard Bishop, early Mercury Rev/Radial Spangle and TFUL282, a wicked take on some of the best sounds of 20 years ago complete with rumbling Clean-like bass and a fizzing fug of sizzling, smoking acid guitar.
So, the fact that this band are on their seventh studio album is not lost on me, 'Bend Beyond' is a largely commercial set of heartfelt nuggets constructed with love and a boundless knack for a warmly-faceted, hook-laden tune. The blissed harmonies, reedy organ and wild cavernous lead guitar that spill from the amazing 'Find Them Empty' will have you in tears...well maybe I'm feeling a little emotional right now but every time this damn song comes on I feel like hugging the world. Many tunes dotted throughout feel like treasured old pals after a couple of listens, there's a strong sixties feel to much of the album in the best possible way in that these gems are built to fucking last.