Fronted by Elijah Miller, with John Kleber on lead guitar and Joan Chew on bass, the Brooklyn trio's second album is a collection of brooding indie psych folk hung around the concept of, as it says in the notes, "our generational search for luxury and ease at the expense of other people's further-away-lives."
As such, it opens with the chugging bassline and brooding keys of 'Taxidermy Eden', an update on the Adam and Eve story where ennui has supplanted wonder, waiting for the world in stasis to end, squally guitars taking it to the close. The ragga rhythm-like 'Waste All The Time' introduces Joy Division hollow drums as it builds to an anthem flourish, then along comes the album's conceptual centrepoint, 'A Medication List'. Influenced by the juggernaut driving krautrock rhythms of Can, it has Miller addressing his late father's early-onset Parkinson's and his lengthy struggle to combat it, much of the lyric comprising of exactly what the title states, as echoes of Bowie enter the mix in the final stages.
One of the folkiest numbers vocally, the irony-laden 'American Triumph' continues the theme of medical palliatives and extends it into the field of control ("it's your brain but it's our business") while, elsewhere, the slow march dirge 'RG 40' mines similar territory with an optimistic sheen ("you got good news/Split molecules"), 'Golden Age Addiction' ("so many choices, nobody can blame you") rides a nervy pizzicato keyboards riff before exploding into a soaring guitar solo and, another list-centric lyric, the Bowieseque swaying 'The Company You Keep' returns to the notion of control ("there are slaves in the soles of your sneakers…there are slaves in the diamonds that you gave to your love.. there are slaves in the eyes watching down from above."
If there's a hint of Roger Waters there, it's more explicit on the keys-backed narcotic sway of 'Smoke and Lungs' with its dreamy singalong chorus, the album winding down with the jazz-inflected, bass-heavy 'Fractions', another early Bowie nod on 'India Oil' (returning to the search for miracle cures), the scat-intro rhythmic lope of 'A Memory Made' and the riff-driven, heavy circling drum pattern of 'Dreaming of Flying' with its digression into psychedelic pastures. It all ends in epic form with the ten-minute, guitar frameworked 'For Jack', a comedown instrumental that plays like the fluctuating graph on a heart monitor, riding to peaks before finally ebbing away on a sonic wash of white noise.
Admittedly, not one for those who like their psych-folk/rock parameters well-defined, but if you're prepared to ride the tides of its musical and thematic flow, this has much to offer.
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