Psychic Ills - One Track Mind

by Amy Putman Rating:6 Release Date:2013-02-18

Has anyone else noticed how lift music has evolved over the last decade? The same could be said of call waiting or supermarket announcement systems. Even in 2003, most of them were all about badly played popular classical pieces, unfortunate static and brutally cheerful women chirpily announcing redundant information.

Nowadays, however, it's mashed together snippets of songs you should probably know (or rather it is assumed that you know) 'top 100' track glibness with long, doctored notes that seem to go on forever while you're being ignored by the hellish robot lady. These originally crap tunes never exist in their horrible fullness, but instead are spliced with pre-recorded ex-Radio 1 DJs selling themselves for loyalty cards. The choruses seem to be repeated more than is decent and they curtail the ends of the songs to make room for an extra refrain for the previous or next odious throwaway. Muzak would be welcome.

Psychic Ills are not muzak, and are worlds better than contemporary, non-place, transit horror music, but they do fall sadly into the genre once confused with muzak: easy listening. I don't think they meant to go there. I think they were well-intentioned travellers who stumbled into The Cube, flailing, getting lost, bleeding and finally falling sadly into the chasm of easy listening with a soft plop.

We should watch them with compassion, seeing their hopes and dreams as beautiful things in development. They are like twirly, hippie stoners who you know are on the cusp of moving on to wanks and munchies, playing with bubbles. You watch with extra care because it is about to change. It's not their fault that they ended up here in the midden - the woodland path was hard to see and there were a lot of witches with gingerbread cottages and suggestions on how to make commercially viable music. Nevertheless, however blameless and potentially profitable, Psychic Ills have been led by an evil Pied Piper into the land of inoffensive songwriting.

It seems like they were aiming for leisurely soft-rock with mild blues undertones - and they almost made it, just like Snow White almost punched the persistent, creepy old bitch in the face instead of eating the weird looking apple - but not quite. I wouldn't go as far as to say that the result is coma-inducing, but it is definitely soporific. It is quite pleasant and I suggest would make good sex music for those who make love rather than fuck, but it is just too easy to allow it to fade into the background. It may not impose, but neither does it excite.

This album is far too good for lifts and phone-lines, but would be pretty perfect for a coffee shop or hallway - some sort of ambient space which serves no important function but facilitates communication and moderate leisure. It doesn't belong anywhere fun, but could help relax those disposed to nervousness. You can chat happily over it, drift into your own little thought bubble, or get on with some reading, dimly aware somewhere in your hind-soul that a quite nice melody is happening outside of your head-brain mind-thought.

It is pleasant and even, in parts, pretty, in the same way a sun-bleached plain or cloudless sky is pretty. It just doesn't stir one. It really could have been something more. The track 'FBI' is darker and a little bit funky, and stands out because of it. I plan to add that to my regular playlist.

The rest of the album, however, will be stashed away, waiting for the kind of house party where you hardly know anyone and everyone has wildly different taste - nobody could object to this. The sad thing is that, with a little less echo-effect, stronger vocals, and a less lackadaisical rhythm, their underlying talent could have come through. You can tell it's dormant in there somewhere, but this molehill album does not reveal the true creature, just the rough shape it has made on its way.

There is hope for their future but they need to decide what they want and commit a little more. They need to worry a little less and take some risks. Loose the weeds and rake up their indecision, dig their abilities and plant something more fruitful - something vigorous and maybe a little dirty.

They could be something great, something worthy of their dreams, but they would have to stray from the safe and soft and head for the jagged rocks of experimentation. Right now they could probably make some money from the masses who don't want to be challenged but they will continue to sound utterly indistinguishable from the other late-night-driving radio bands...

...That's only one decade away from the lifts.

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