Review Summary: Tighter than a duck’s anus.
So prolific and varied is the output of Norwegian power trio Motorpsycho that it can be hard to know where to jump in when browsing through their considerable discography. Their material has run the gamut from grungy indie and heavy psychedelia right the way through to symphonic jazz. This album, their 7th, sonically straddles the whole range of their previous output up to its release and is chock full of gutsy hooks, churning psychedelic rhythms and shimmering space rock all delivered with a brash confidence and joyful exuberance.
The magnificent opening double header of ‘Psychonaut’ and ‘Ozone’ get things underway on here with aplomb. ‘Psychonaut’ begs to be played as loud as possible, a pummeling hammer of a song with a repeating bluesy riff bludgeoning you into dazed submission, ramping up and over into an unhinged barrage of mad twangs and frantic saxophone. The pulverizing effect on the senses is such that the opening bars of ‘Ozone’ are almost a welcome relief by comparison as the guys chant “that’s just the way we are, our heads in the ozone and our minds in Shangri-La“ before letting rip with a crunchy riff that would make Pete Townsend proud. This is a hip-thrusting hard rock song firmly rooted in the ‘70s, chock-full with irresistible grooves, electrifying lead guitar fills and thumping percussion. The more retrospective side of Motorpsycho is represented on here in the form of some wonderfully shimmering alt-psych numbers, notably ‘Vortex Surfer’ with its serene suspended chord strums, guileless vocals and towering choruses. The band aren’t afraid to veer towards commercialism on occasion and the unabashedly sentimental ‘Hey, Jane’ screams ‘hit-single’ at you as it glides along on a pumping bass rhythm embellished by glorious pop-psych melodies and twanging sitar. However, the bulk of the material on here is shamelessly unconventional in approach and the resulting variations in style serve to maintain the listener’s interest, assuming that you are partial to a dose of eclectic heavy psychedelia in the first place.
The panache and sheer nonchalance evident in Motorpsycho’s delivery are essential elements on this album. These guys are so together in their performance and so poised in their application that they manage to carry even the lesser material in a convincing manner, which contributes greatly to the consistency over a lengthy running time. The band would go on to incorporate jazz and progressive rock into their repertoire on future releases but this particular album stands as a bookend to their hard rock period and triumphantly condenses all of the styles they had toyed with up to its release. If you are looking for an entry point in Motorpsycho’s hefty discog and are put off by the later jazz elements this is certainly the place to go.