Cobra JuicyAlbum |
Mysterious electronic collective flirts with indie mainstream.
In 2011, following some time off while band members worked on solo projects, Black Moth Super Rainbow reconvened to start work on a new album provisionally entitled Psychic Love Damage. Frontman and mastermind Tobacco abandoned the album about halfway through, and based on the finished tracks from that album that were included as one of the Kickstarter premiums for Cobra Juicy, that was the right call: there's nothing wrong with the songs, but they're not an advance from the last two BMSR albums, Dandelion Gum and Eating Us.
The same cannot be said of Cobra Juicy, which is by far the best album BMSR has yet released. Cobra Juicy is, in all respects, of a piece with the mysterious Pennsylvania-based collective's previous work: Tobacco's vocals are still invariably delivered through a Vocoder, the rhythms still tend toward the slightly off-kilter, and the arrangements are still based on warped, distorted synth and guitar sounds. But this time out, the songs feature relatively conventional hooks and verse-chorus structures, with the left-turn noise freakouts kept to a bare minimum; the guitar riff and handclap accents that open leadoff track "Windshield Smasher" wouldn't sound out of place on an old T. Rex single, and the slide guitar-driven "Psychic Love Damage" has a certain Beach House-goes-Cocteau Twins vibe. Tobacco's vocals are placed much more forward in the mix than they used to be, and not only can you hear the lyrics more readily, they often make a bit more sense than the surreal non sequiturs that tend to be his stock in trade. Album highlight "Like A Sundae" might be a BMSR first: not only does the song feature a genuinely gorgeous melody, it's basically a straightforward, uncomplicated love song.
But mostly, Cobra Juicy just doesn't feel as alien as Black Moth Super Rainbow's earliest releases did, and that's not merely a matter of Tobacco and crew dialing down the weirdness a notch. Vocoders, vintage synth sounds and a prevailing feel of psychedelic mellowness have become increasingly popular in indie music over the last few years, so much that Cobra Juicy sounds in tune with the times without any sense of bandwagon-jumping. Black Moth Super Rainbow haven't made a chillwave album or anything, but there's no reason why a fan of, say, Ariel Pink or Peaking Lights wouldn't lose themselves in these songs.