Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

GOAT bring forth accessible, comfort blanket psych-funk with Oh Death

"Oh Death"

Release date: 21 October 2022
GOAT - Oh Death cover
21 October 2022, 00:00 Written by Ross Horton

Imagine, if you like, an inverted pentagram drawn in blood on the sand of the Sahara desert. Each of the five corners represents a band, and in the very centre you'll find Swedish maniacs GOAT.

The top left point of the pentagram is Funkadelic – or more particularly guitar deity Eddie Hazel. The top right is where you'll find Tinariwen, the iconic wanderers of elemental blues. Middle right is The Doors – hammy as a pair of leather trousers, serious as a heart attack. At the bottom is The Slits – the most underrated punk band in history – and to the left the founding fathers of modern Scandi psych: Dungen.

Those elements are what make up the majority of the GOAT sound, but they don't tell the full story. See, GOAT take the very best parts of all of those bands, mix them up and send back into the cosmos as plumes of kaleidoscopic smoke.

GOAT's new album Oh Death – their fourth, and their first in six years if you don’t count the oddities compilation Headsoup – is full of accessible, comfort blanket psych-funk. Are you a couch cosmonaut who nurses a Teapigs chai while Midsommar plays aimlessly on the TV? It's for you. Do you spend all winter craving that first sip of warm festival beer? It's for you too. Essentially, this is a collection of hot-blooded, wide-eyed ‘world’ music that continues GOAT's impressive run of albums. It probably helps that they're always different, always the same.

The first track, “Soon You Die” is absurd, squelchy funk with completely overblown vocals. It’s magnificent. The track builds, steadily, to a mind-melting crescendo of fuzzy noise complete with a fiery guitar solo. Then “Chukua Pesa” takes things back down the desert highway, with shimmering tremolo guitars and head-nodding, heavy-lidded rhythms.

“Under No Nation” uses a lot of soul-jazz soundtrack elements, complete with unhinged sax squiggles and wailing electric guitars. “Do The Dance” instantly recalls the kind of tribal drum aesthetic once peddled by Adam and the Ants and The Slits - the sunnier side of the post-punk movement - before “Goatmilk” takes us on a flute-funk odyssey into the outer reaches of our collective consciousness. It’s completely silly, of course, but it makes absolute sense in the grand scheme of the album.

“Blow the Horns” is an understated highlight that liberally borrows from krautrock and classic heavy metal (mainly Can and Black Sabbath). “Remind Yourself”, on the other hand, sets a relentless pace and rages like thunder for all of its three minutes and change. It’s probably the closest they’ve ever come to a Remain in Light-esque worldbeat sound, but it never strays completely into that realm.

The closing final pair – “Blessings” (an interlude) and “Passes Like Clouds” (a pretty, washed out number that fades into ambient bliss) – amount to a wonderful send-off for a wildly varied yet thematically consistent album.

While not their best album (that will always be the first), and certainly not their worst (that would be Requiem, but with the caveat that it’s also pretty great), Oh Death is another chapter in the book, another highway, another impressive set of songs. If only all bands were this consistent.

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