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"Putrifiers II"

Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II
07 September 2012, 08:58 Written by Amanda Barokh

The title Putrifiers II suggests that the new album from Thee Oh Sees might be a fetid affair. The album is certainly not a rotter but it is definitely darker and woozier than last year’s upbeat Castlemania. Each song is steeped in a heavy fog of fuzz lending the album a slightly suffocating feel.

The klezmer style intro heralds a leap into the rabbit hole. The album veers and swerves around in pace and genre but the opening track sees the band at their absolute heaviest. ‘Wax Face’ is a wailing psychedelic rock beast punctuated by John Dwyer’s haunting yelps. Uncompromisingly filthy garage rock production is the order of the day here.

After the first track things calm down a little. Moving from spun-out psychosis to a lighter, more sixties girl group-influenced sound. ‘Hang A Picture’ and ‘Floods New Light’ showcase the band’s deftness with harmony and melody. Echoes of TV theme tunes and recurring motifs steep the album in nostalgia for wholesome white picket fence America.

However, this is an inconsistent album chequered with low as well as high points. A key influence is the Velvet Underground. ‘So Nice’ is more or less a direct homage to ‘Black Angel Death Song’, but one which unfortunately skims uncomfortably close to the original without being as good, while ‘Cloud #1’ is almost two minutes of pure keyboard noise, reminiscent of a cat walking across a Casio: so excruciatingly pointless that it will probably force you to get up take the needle off the vinyl.

Fortunately, the positives outweigh the negatives and the band find their way back on course. The title track is also a good example of what they do best: deep fuzzy demented psych. In ‘Lupine Dominus’ the freaky keyboards recall the excellent experimentations of legendary producer Joe Meek.

While the label of “garage rock” is slowly being appropriated by bands who use it as an excuse to churn out sloppy careless music, Thee Oh Sees remain among the best proponents of the genre. Minor blips aside, they succeed in imbuing their music with the kind of visceral energy that is perfectly harnessed by the lo-fi production techniques they employ.

Listen to Putrifiers II

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