- by Andy Brown Release Date:2013-08-19 Label: Thrill Jockey
White Hills have been on a seemingly never-ending roll for the last few years, releasing album-after-album of explosive modern psychedelia. 2011s HP-1 was a sprawling, monolithic masterpiece, while last year's Frying on This Rock was a technicolour blast of motorik beats and driving psych-rock. So You Are…So You'll Be carries on the good work in admirable style. The album retains the band's usual hallmarks (repetition, riffs and the obligatory 'freak-out') but still manages to sound like a sonic side-step from their previous release.
Proceedings open with the sound of fried electronics, a Sega Mega Drive being carelessly thrown down the stairs before the band lunges into the wall-of-distorted-riffs that is, 'In Your Room'. For all the band's experimentation, it's good to know that they can still create a simple, heavy and powerful riff. This outfit has always had a knack for a good curtain-opener and don't let us down here.
The serene, ambient-drone of 'The Internal Monologue' comes next and it's a disarmingly beautiful piece of music. White Hills never seem to struggle when flitting between sounds, textures and even genres; instead their albums become capsules of sound where all available avenues are fully explored. It wouldn't be a particularly psychedelic album if your ears weren't taken on the all-important 'trip' would it?
The mighty title track sits proudly at the centre of the album. It's an energetic vortex of sound with pounding drums, endlessly repeated riffs and a gorgeously languid section towards the end with a string section seemingly lost in a multi-coloured pool of effects pedals. 'Forever in Space (Enlightened)' is another seven-minute paean to repetition and stoner-rock riffs which propels itself forward like a rock 'n' roll space cadet being fired into orbit.
There's some great, unrestrained wah-wah drenched solos from Dave W and a solid bass-led backing from Ego Sensation (probably not her real name) throughout the album. 'Rare Upon the Earth' unleashes yet more wailing solos, hypnotic basslines and reverb-soaked sounds. There's a sense that some of this has been done before but when it's carried off with this much aplomb, it doesn't really matter.
It's all pretty exciting stuff, yet there's arguably not as much sonic experimentation as we've come to expect; less left-turns, psych-dub soundscapes and 15-minute wig-outs this time. So You Are…So You'll Be is certainly much more of a rock album than their previous couple of records. Having said this, perhaps I've just gotten used to listening to White Hills and take some of their sonic shenanigans for granted. I mean, the album is far from 'straight-ahead'. As if to emphasise this point, the album closes with the electronic, motorik pleasures of 'MIST (Winter)'.
After seven albums, White Hills are still the undisputed leaders of the psych-rock pack (or has that golden-chalice of lysergic acid been passed to Hookworms?).