The Black Angels – Clear Lake Forest review

The Black Angels coverAlthough The Black Angels’s seven-track release has been out for a few weeks already (on clear 12″ vinyl, CD and digitally, via Blue Horizon), this blues tinged psychedelic-rock album is so futuristic and, well, downright good, we felt it deserved a review anyway. Below, you can check out the (slightly trippy) video for fourth album track, The Flop.

Heavy chords that open the album with Sunday Evening give way to muffled, fuzzy vocals that smother the track, to create an almost beach-pop sound. Intermittent and seemingly unpredictable changes in pace create an unsettling, out of control mood that seems to spiral the track along until the powerful driving key changes and fuzzy feedback that bring the opening song to its close. Even the percussion that begins Tired Eyes sounds distorted, creating a sound not totally unlike a psychedelic version of R.E.M. Although the vocals remain distinguishable throughout, they are rarely clear, with overpowering layering creating and almost disconcerting sound (in a good way).

Diamond Eyes opens in a rather The Killers-esque manner, and with the music varying in levels around the vocals they are occasionally lost, creating a Crowded House style, allowing the fuzzy guitars to create a backdrop to the track and have occasional clearer moments shine through the chaos. The hauntingly clear opening to The Flop (below) gives way to way to catchy-albeit-unclear vocals that wouldn’t be out of place in a car advert, or at a 90s rave. Upbeat and infectious, at three minutes it’s obvious as to why this addictive little number was chosen for single release.

An Occurrence at 4507 South Third Street makes it as my personal favourite off the album, with a clearer opening and a country-Texas slant on the vocals to match the cleaner accompanying music, which then fades into the tried and tested addictive refrains and controlled psych-pop close that’s bound to make you want to dance. Penultimate The Executioner matches the sombre title with a slower, deeper opening, and faded vocal work creating the backing more than the instrumental does. Clear, ballad-eqsue lyrics become fuzzy and distorted, before the final chants of “if it feels good, do it again”, close the track.

At six and a half minutes, Linda’s Gone makes it as the longest track on the album, and the one to close the psych-pop-rock infusion. Again, the hints of Crowded House shine in this song, with long and powerful single-instrument solos complete the grand finale with powerful, underlying melodic guitar and an enticing manner of story-telling.

As far as psychedelia goes, this band has the genre down to a T, with an infusion of fuzziness and hypnotic vocals making this a captivating release.

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