More for a morning after than the night before
This New York outfit, like its inspirations here, shuffles when it used to slam.“One More Time” takes its lazy, jangling time recalling the Velvet Underground to wander down a slower, mellower direction than the group’s earlier assaults. For a case in point, cue up the opener.
“See You There” channels a spacier, druggier urban attitude, shared by other bands promoting underground, neo-psychedelic stylings on the faithfully retrospective records from Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones label. It’s consistent, but as with some of the label’s other releases, it fails to rouse me much from its morning-after bluesy mood – shaking free or falling back again into slumber. Vocals by Tres Warren sneer and paces stumble. While appealing in small doses, we’ve all heard this long before from Lou Reed.
“Might Take a While” delivers on its hesitant suggestion of following through. However, Tom Gliubizzi’s guitars (and keyboards on some tracks) don’t accelerate, but stay modest, more like the later Feelies. While this will please fans of the Velvets and the many Hudson River-adjacent bands who carry on their legacy, if Psychic Ills revved up the speed and kicked out more jams, it would liven the impact of One Track Mind, which too often lives up to its title.
When “Depot” trades in the same pacing and stance as other bands of the past 40-odd years who’ve mingled addled vocals, studio effects, and a slightly menacing tone backed by organ and high-hat, to bring in the time-tested chord progressions, the causes add up to a familiar effect. This type of song, respectful of a generation and more of rock brewed on chemicals, cannot shake off its old fashions.
I was thinking about Spiritualized and Jason Pierce’s similar stylings when musing over earlier tracks, so “Tried to Find It” with its touch of gospel-ish female background vocals did not surprise. Certainly not orchestrated, but it shows that having worked with Sonic Boom (the other half of Pierce’s previous band, Spaceman 3), the affinity fits the group.
“FBI” cuts haze, but boosts the reverb. It’s spooky only in a predictable sense. No real doom or threat of an orange alert. It plods, with Brian Tamburello’s dutiful drums and Elizabeth Hart’s stolid bass.
“I Get By” resembles “I’m Waiting for My Man” in its classic backbeat. Yet, I welcomed it by comparison, for it picked up the pace. Production on some tracks is credited to Neil Patrick Hegarty (Royal Trux) and this song sounded sharp and clean. However, I find with Psychic Ills and similar bands on Sacred Bones, so much more edginess and experimentation on earlier (more underground in some cases) records was inherent. Later albums settle down for a more comfortable, less confrontational, conventional setting.
Harmonica announces “City Sun”: its folksy rhythms stay polite if inconsequential. (“Western Metaphor” did not appear on the advance file downloaded for review; but I like the title.) “Drop Out” closes out this outing. We find ourselves waiting for our man to “get up and go out of here,” but the sung promise hovers rather than delivers. The compressed, woozy nature of this song typifies the ambiance on this album. If this eases your hungover or strung-out mood, it may sooth better than if you’re caffeinated and restless.
// Notes from the Road
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