Iain Woods – the young man behind Psychologist - seems to make no qualms whatsoever of going for the artistic jugular. It is a trait that he wears emphatically and proudly; a trait that is all too rare in a generation littered with muted bedroom producers content in rehashing and rehashing and rehashing. His debut EP – the rightly lauded Waves of OK – was a perfect summation of the increasing seasonal affective disorder in music, not to mention an apt introduction to his vulnerable musical personality. The warmth within the darkness he built with his ludicrously romantic vocal chords was comforting in a time of cold. But it seems that that same dysfunction of emotion that made his music stand out so prominently has hit a somewhat inevitable hurdle with the Propeller EP.
Where Waves of OK rode on the strength-in-tenderness that Woods seemed such a dab hand, Propeller takes on a far greater electronic tack, leaving his once almighty voice to battle with all too recurrent moments of annoying, unimaginative electronica. The slowly slurred poetry of ‘Out Damned Spot’ stand as a perfect example of Woods’ confusion. Whilst it flows into a full-bodied abrasive stamp of skittering drums and echoing kick drums backed, it is only pulled through a vortex of mundane, sub-bass din by an all too swift barrage of strings. ’1:1′ suffers from that same complex – its minor chord pianos drowned out by an all too obvious slap of drum breaks in the chorus, whilst ‘Seance’ struggles through a monotonous swamp of noise as his layered vocals are swept away, crying for help.
These battles, though, are where Woods remains proud to exist – his is music so obviously, and at its best heart-wrenchingly, ridden with personal strife. Whether it be hidden beneath a haunted echo of vocals or slams of electronic fervour, when it resonates, it does so with incredibly powerful ease. ‘Disco At Twin Peaks’ stands out as the stand out track that pulls Propeller from the abyss for its simplicity – it is the perfect encapsulation of his disillusionment of his sonic surroundings, sounding like the melody inside his brooding mind as he is surrounding by a bewildering level of hedonism.
If anything, these hedonistic ingredients should be to Woods’ taste, but those once infectious and breathtaking moments are rare here. It’s clear that Psychologist is something he treats with a “no holds barred” approach and is more than willing to turn his hand to which sounds may be relevant to his train of thought. The two EP’s combined have been quite relevantly daubed The Epidural Collection, as if to maybe imply that the Psychologist project is, in fact, pre-natal. With such obviously precocious talent on hand, that may well be the case – Propeller has the misfortune of not standing up to the promise offered up by its predecessor and proves that Woods’ has yet to find his feet. Maybe he never will. Once the fine tuning is complete on his obviously erratic musical personalities, his stride will be one far quicker than the rest no doubt, and make the title of this EP ever more appropriate for the movement of his art.