The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream

by Andy Brown Rating:7.5 Release Date:2010-09-13

Some bands just make you want to wear shades, smoke cigarettes and hit the highway in a stolen car...It's a cliched thing in many ways, but that's exactly how 'Bad Vibrations', the opening track on Phosphene Dream, makes me feel. The Black Angels are from Texas, named after a Velvet Underground song and sound like a cross between The Warlocks, The Seeds and a host of Nuggests/Trash-esque sixties garage-rock bands. 'Yellow Elevator No 2' comes on like psych-pop innovators Clinic before ending like a strung-out Beatles track - it's nigh on impossible not to nod along with a grin on your face. 'Sunday Afternoon' is all sunny guitars and lazy contentment as it tells us "Well, come on over here, it's alright over here". It's not all that original but since it's a rather sunny afternoon as I write this, it definitely does the job...

'River of Blood' sends us back into more hazy/stoned territory before the brilliant 'Entrance Song' comes on like the hypnotic drone-rock stylings of Spacemen 3. The title track draws those Clinic references again, as does the fantastic 'True Believers' as Alex Maas sings shaman-like though gritted teeth ("Ooh, ooh, they sing as they cross the river/, Ooh, ooh, they said as they prayed to Jesus"). It's a cryptic, hypnotic and brilliant track which sounds like it's slowly going crazy in the desert sun. 'Telephone', on the other hand, is a surprisingly straight forward rock 'n' roll track about girls that aren't home whenever you call - it really wouldn't sound out of place on one of those 60s garage-rock compilations of obscure seven inches. 'The Sniper' makes you wanna put those shades back on as it stalks and struts through your speakers- starting like the cool Spector-esque pop of The Raveonettes before an addictive, chugging riff brings the album to a close.

Phosphene Dream is a frequently great listen - especially on the strutting Seeds enamoured tracks like 'Bad Vibrations' and the commanding 'Entrance Song'. Naming yourself after one of The Velvet Underground's most abrasive and experiential songs ('The Black Angel's Death Song'), however, may give some the wrong impression, as The Black Angels are more retrospective garage-rock then they are sonic pioneers. So Phosphene Dream might not bust open your doors of perception, but that's not to say you won't enjoy its pop-psychedilia and 13th Floor Elevators cool. Time to put those shades on...

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