Punk rock was originally shorthand for quick, fast, dirty rock n’ roll or whatever anybody could make, before it got taken over as another fascist fashion statement. Anything without a leather jacket or liberty spikes was gobbled up liberally by punk poseurs who never bothered to learn the roots of their own tradition, and the seemingly vast, endless possibilities of punk rock dwindled down to a dribble.
With the endless availability of cheap music gear and recording equipment, this punk primacy is finally starting to bleed and blend into other styles - in the case of Truro, UK's Sombre, psychedelic rock.
There's been a rising tide of interesting psychedelic rock so far this century with bands like Ty Segall, The War On Drugs, Mac De Marco, et al. redefining what we can do with phasers and flange. It's, quite simply, stoner jams for a different kind of stoner, one that maybe holds down a job or goes on vacation. Instead of "psychedelic rock" being used as a mock-up paisley faux-light show, like psych retronauts have done for years, instead they blend psychedelia's vibrant magentas and cyans with punk's energy and don't-give-a-toss attitude.
Lesser was recorded in a small, soggy apartment, over the span of ten days, as practically an example of how a record should never be made. There was no control booth, no mic stands, no power cleaner. Hell, even the songs weren't finished! Instead, Sombre's Theo Dorian set out only to write and record a song a day, as a means to get something done and finished.
Dorian must have golden ears, if this is what he turns out in less than two weeks. Lesser doesn't sound nearly as hissy or fizzy as you would expect from the rudimentary gear and fast production schedule. Lesser is actually surprisingly clean, which lets Dorian's keen melodic sensibilities shine through. Verses are punctuated with wobbly flanged guitar - the perfect blend of psychedelia, punk rock and pop, as explored by the likes of Television or the early romantic post-punk of Felt.
The poppiness makes punk's in-your-face intensity a little easier to relate to, being slightly tempered instead of screaming in your ear. Likewise, the pop and punk update psychedelia into being something new and vital, instead of some faux-vintage time trip.
For anyone that likes (and misses), the whip-smart slack cynicism of late '90s Indie rock bands like Modest Mouse or Pavement, you'll dig the hell out of Sombre, as well as purveyors of new wave psychedelia like Ty Segall, Connan Mockasin or Mac De Marco.
If someone can make a record this good, this fast, the majors better be worried! Time to step up your game, Warner!
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