- by Jeff Penczak Rating:5 Release Date:2016-09-23 Label: Holy Are You
Third album of noisy psychedelic krautrock from these BBC6 Music darlings, Compulsion Songs finds Carlisle’s finest reinventing the halcyon Madchester daze, while occasionally building on the glistening jingle jangle and hallucinatory sway of heroes like Spacemen 3, Loop, Can, and Neu explored on earlier releases. ‘Bad Texan’ leaps through the starter’s gate like a bronkin’ buck at a rodeo roundup, all slashing guitars, percolating keyboards and swirling synths set to a herky-jerky, rhythm. ‘Stormy Waters’ continues with a headswirling collection of jingly jangly guitars and dreamy vocals that harkens back to heads full of wonderstuff. Oasis and Stone Roses fans, if they’re any left, will love it. ‘The Emptiest Place’ dips its toe into the galloping paisley pop waters of bands like Long Ryders and Green On Red, but the two minutes of shouting, misdirected noise buried inside ‘21st Century’ must be contractual obligation filler to meet minimum time allotments, as there is no other excuse for this mess to exist.
‘Nadir’ suggests they didn’t lose their self-reflective passions in outer space (or that they picked up a bunch of Hawkwind albums on a recent record shop jaunt), and the epic ‘Epitaph’ pulls out all the stops: motorik drumming, infectious synth beats, shards of white-hot guitars, and throbbing basslines that will clear the cobwebs out of your head while putting a tap or three in your toes.
If there are any drawbacks (besides the interminably boring dub nonsense the band seem hellbent on clinging to, represented here by ‘I’m A Star In My Own Right’), the lads’ tendency to let songs go on too long – not bad in club land, but attention spans will wander if you’re just sitting around the bedroom skinnin’ up and staring at the walls (another disadvantage of this digitised era that eschews the wonders of album art for antiseptic music files. But music’s transition from an all-encompassing audio/visual to strictly an audio art is an argument for another day.)
And there’s still too much of a kitchen sink approach to the album, bouncing aimlessly and sometimes frustratingly from psych pop to kraut rhythms to E’s are good bacchanalia that reflects their varied taste in musical styles, but confounds the punters: one minute it’s “Oi, this is great”; the next elicits a headscratching, “What the fuck’s this shit”? So, yeah, we know you like a bunch of different music and don’t want to be pigeonholed into any one genre, but that’s what Battle of The Band contests are for. There are only so many times you can release an “eclectic” album before your fans start wondering if you’ll ever pick something and stick with it throughout an entire record.