Releasing rock albums on Wick Records - the offshoot of the acclaimed soul imprint Daptone - might not look quite right on paper, but once you delve into The Mystery Lights, sense is immediately apparent.
This New York based five piece have got the blues, the soul and a whole loada funk in their scorching interpretation of garage/psychedelic rock.
This debut long player comes from the same place as the likes of Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and White Fence; the barely -there but still effective production ethic, the distant fuzz of analogue equipment and the nervous energy of late 60s pre-punk are all evident over 11 pieces of furious psych-rock which does its business and leaves just after the thirty minute mark.
Seminal compilations such as Nuggets and the UK equivalent Rubble get over referenced these days when talking about anything vaguely psych-y, but each track here could find itself living with ease on those collections. Listen to “Talk About Girls” by The Chocolate Watch Band, or anything by The Seeds, then head to the more raucous tracks here, and you'll see they belong together.
The brooding "Flowers in My Hair, Demons in My Head" could be long lost cut by the aforementioned Seeds, "Melt" is the kind of proto-punk that made The Sonics and The MC5 such rock n roll trailblazers, and the backwards guitar and howling soul vocals of “Follow Me Home” reference The Small Faces and The Creation at their most soulful. They are all prime slabs of modern day psych-pop.
That oompa oompa stomping drums of "Too Many Girls", masterfully and totally free of apology, takes that 60s girl band trick of having backing singers repeating the chorus over a riff so lawsuit worthy it's not funny (see the stone cold Northern soul classic “Keep on Keepin’ On” by Nolan Porter). It's delivered with the kind of chest-pumped swagger that The Hives once thrust on us, but with the musical expertise to back it up.
Amid the howling freakbeat, there are tripped out farfisa organ led ballads ("Candlelight"), moments of white boy soul ("Too Tough To Bear") and, in "Without Me", they go down the "I’m no good for you" route with explicit honesty with vocalist Mike Brandon - a captivating presence throughout - passionately pleading that "I don’t think it’s gonna work out to have you more than a friend / honestly baby / you’re better off without me by your side".
Drinking with devils, dog-gone girls who are no good, yeah you know the drill. But it’s all held together with a tight as hell rhythm section and a knowing smirk that's refreshing given how seriously modern day psych seems to take itself. Sure, originality awards will not be forthcoming here, what we have is the sound of a band fizzing with joy and holding up the sounds they adore while yelling 'we fucking love this music’ and doing it brilliantly. It’s not derivative, it’s devotional.