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We have a dilemma here at Norman Towers this week - do we award our coveted Album of the Week trophy to The Knife’s ambitious and sprawling new 3LP masterpiece or this latest offering from Californian garage rock overlords Thee Oh Sees? The notoriously prolific quartet have really been adding a bit of extra polish to their previously rough-around-the-edges recordings and this new album takes that to the next level, with a slick and expansive sound full of warm summery fuzz.
Honcho John Dwyer opts for a falsetto vocal delivery this time round which is slightly reminiscent of Woods and somewhat at odds with much of their earlier work, where his vocals were more nasal and croaky exhortations, stretching the songs out into languorous slacker-psych gems. As for highlights, the mid-album double shot of the sprawling and jammy ‘Strawberries One & Two’ followed by the lively garage bounce’n’yelp of ‘Maze Fancier’ really encapsulate both this band’s best sides - the foggy-eyed jam troupe and the snotty garage rockers - but, especially compared to their previous albums, this is all meticulously produced and the mix is perfectly balanced, sometimes even giving the feel of a more scratchy and contrary Tame Impala (a wild impala?).
Penultimate track ‘Tunnel Time’ is more like the old stuff, a head-cleaning blast of wild psych-pop, complete with flute solo, which will appeal to fans of Ty Segall or The Intelligence. Overall this is a more polished and radio-ready collection than they’ve produced before but they’ve managed to do so without losing their rough and ready charm. Full marks!
10/10 peter Customer review, 20th February 2014
I was playing this last night before my sons went to bed (to settle them down) and to my dismay it was having the opposite effect, even the cover (the 8 year old likes and the 5 year old fears) was piquing their interest. the 8 year old thought that Maze Fancier was 'written by a naughty boy..' who am I to argue. The 5 year old likes the guitar on Sweets Helicopter and the way it wobbles. They both like the 'bits that sound heavy..' it's not quite Jon Spencer in their books, but nothing quite is. Still a great record.
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