Os Noctàmbulos - Stranger - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Os Noctàmbulos - Stranger

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2016-07-15

On Stranger, psych surf rockers, Os Noctàmbulos quite effectively commute the laidback psych indie sounds of Brian Jonestown Massacre, with the urgency of 1960s surf and rockabilly groups. They’re very similar to Canadian group, The Surfdusters from the 1990s, but not as thorny as artists such as Dex Romweber, or as obviously contemporary as Los Straitjackets, or White Fence.

The Fender driven 1960- inspired sound is back-dropped by lashings of Farfisa organ, and the kind of garage aesthetic characterising the style. If you’ve become disillusioned by the overuse of the term ‘psych’, it serves well to recall that the bedrock of that music existed 50 years ago, and Os Noctàmbulos’s pop nuggets make no attempt to dissolve the influence, but rather pay significant homage to it.  What’s interesting is how they vary up the tempos and arrangements, evident immediately on opener ‘Changes’ with its jangly reverbed guitars and assured vocals traversing the stereo channels. ‘Changes’ is hardly indicative of the album as a whole, and time placement is a contemporary one, unlike follow-up ‘Not Everyone’ which is a time-capsuled pop nugget classic in the offing, and would have slotted perfectly into Kayes’s Nuggets compilation. 

‘Medication’ comes on like a rockabilly hoedown if only it had been sung by Roky Erickson, and ‘The Circle Aint Broken’ sounds even more like an International Records production, with its nod to outlaw country.  

Which brings us to standout number, ‘Wandering Light’ a track that manages to communicate everything great about early pop-psych, the guitars leading simple variations into the kind of narcotic dance chorus lampooned by the Monkees on the movie, Head. Or were they lampooning themselves? That’s the trouble with recalling student days. 

Stranger ultimately is probably derivative, but who cares when so much fun can be had.

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