Seemingly incapable of stopping making music for one second, this is Oh Sees 6th album in the last three years if you include Thee Oh Sees and OCS in that tally. Yet Dwyer keeps pushing forward with his double drum line up with all kinds of alumni making guest appearances. Expect more scorching psych but this time with a heavy prog vibe (see sleeve).
Staff note from Robin:
You'll pay for what you did to Gandalf.
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John Dwyer’s endless pursuit for some sort of commonly held psychedelic truth continues on ‘Smote Reverser’, as the maverick offers his sixth record in half as many years. As you may be able to tell by the balrog-worshipping cover, Dwyer is now a proghead, or more of one, anyway. This record is goofy even by OCS beguiling standards -- but continues to jam, and hard.
I’m actually quite charmed, and from the off. You might say Dwyer is leading a charm offensive: the minor-key melody that leads “Sentient Oona” is subtle and slow growing, but it’s slashed down by brash keys for a silly jam that sounds like it was a thrown off sketch for a Magma song. These two sides keep duelling until “Enrique el Cobrador” comes around, a tune imprinted with the band’s newfound, two-drummer maximalism where the groove is put in place, beefed up and freaked out upon. The recent OCS vibe remains, but those silly, organ-lite keys and silly guitar frenetics (the opening figure of “C”, for instance) make them sound a little more “Supper’s Ready” era Genesis than modern day visionary.
You know I’m in, but those of you who want a heavy, fast, and often completely tripped Oh Sees will be fine. “Overthrown” is just a full on aural barrage of winding and thrashing garage rock -- occasionally displaced by spacey chords. “Moon Bog” is that good stoner psych jam; there’s barely a dynamic shift to be had in “Abysmal Urn”, which is largely smokey twanging. And I know how you’re gonna feel about the record’s centerpiece, “Anthemic Aggressor”; it finds its groove and invites the storm to sit in on it, the band making their most outwardly psych tune through twelve minutes of patient impatience. As time goes on, Dwyer's records become looser and more rambling, but they never feel like grab bag; more like a party bag, actually, 'cos there's fun to be had every which way.
7/10 Guy 30th August 2018
It's 'good' like basically all the recent Oh Sees records. Seems like they have fallen into a bit of template with the new line-up and dare I say it, got a bit same-y.
There are some lonnnnnggggg krauty jams on this one, perhaps excessively so, but they do still do the thing that makes the songs instantly recognisable as the work of Dwyer, so that's all to the good. I would call this 'more of the same' and perhaps not quite as diverse and interesting as the 'San Francisco' line ups of the group.
If you like the Oh Sees I reckon you'll like it, but I think it has fewer outright catchy songs as some of their previous albums.
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