[31 July 2014]
I once had a colleague at a digital design agency that I worked for who likened Animal Collective to being just a version of the Beach Boys on LSD. The comment was probably meant to be derogatory, but after listening to Baltimore-area-based art-pop group New God’s sophomore album Firework, I can say that New God is definitely the Beach Boys on acid. Even the press release notes the Beach Boys connection. That also means that New God hues pretty closely to Animal Collective, and the vocals seem remotely Panda Bear-ish. So your mileage may vary when it comes to Firework, but this is an album that steadily grows on you, and, at times, it matches the sun-kissed pop of Caribou. Part of the appeal comes from the fact that this album was recorded on a racquetball court, which is even referenced in final song “Dumb”, giving the record an expansive feel.
However, the album does get off to a bit of a false start. “Firework” and “Demon Chant” are cloying, and seem directly pulled from the Animal Collective songbook. “Demon Chant” even uncomfortably butts up against the wonderful “Summer Girl”, which gives credence to the fact that the sequencing of these tracks is a problem area. However, once you get past those first two songs, the album improves wonderfully. The bass driven ballad “I Know Something About You” is quite lovely, and might be a major component towards buying this album. The song basically falls on its knees, and is beautiful. And the aforementioned “Summer Girl” is a stunning summer jam, with an astounding lead guitar riff. As a whole, Firework is a bit lumpy, but there’s enough here to warrant a recommendation for those into experimental jams with a pop edge. Maybe more time spent listening to the Beach Boys instead of Animal Collective while passing the acid around might do this group a greater service? One would hope, anyway.