Review Summary: Comfort in conformity
Thee Oh Sees, at their core, are nothing new or groundbreaking. Everything about their sound seems like it was borrowed from many other psychedelic rock bands from both the 60s/70s and new-age garage psych bands. Even lead singer John Dwyer sounds like a frontman from the age of psych rock with his high pitched, dreamy vocals that calmly stumble their way into most tracks. Yet, with their 11th release, A Weird Exits
, they seem to be completely okay and comfortable with this rented sound, and the album is fun enough that you should be okay with it too.
If anything is going to prepare you for the album it’s going to be the first three tracks on here as these tracks best showcase the types of genres A Weird Exits
covers. First track, ‘Dead Man’s Gun’ is simply an upbeat indie pop song drenched in fuzz and psychedelic influences. Dwyer follows the rhythmic section for the verses on this song in a staccato yet soft-voiced manner. Yet, after every set of verses Dwyer himself breaks out into a guitar solo laced in fuzzy tones and classic rock influences. Other tracks like ‘Plastic Plant’ and ‘The Axis’ are much like this one, rooted in indie pop and embracing of psychedelia influences, and they prove to be just as fun as the opener.
Third track, ‘Jammed Entrance’ reveals the carefree, jam-band side of Thee Oh Sees. Here Dwyer’s vocals take a seat and the bass takes the lead with an infectious bassline right out of the gates, setting up the rest of the band for some experimental jam sessions. Unfortunately, these types of tracks are some of the shortcomings A Weird Exits
displays. These jam sessions (also found on ‘Unwrap the Fiend Pt. 2' and ‘Crawl Out From the Fall Out’) might have been better off staying as such, since none of them seem to develop into anything. ‘Jammed Entrance’ puts a glitchy synth at its forefront, and the repetitive pattern it follows gets to be tiresome. The nearly 8 minute opus, ‘Crawl Out From the Fall Out’ suffers from the same problems its cousin track did, although Dwyer does make a short appearance 4 minutes into the track. Unfortunately, it fails to justify its length as it builds to nothing and introduces nothing special or memorable, seeming to even bore the drummer as he does nothing but add in a few cymbal taps throughout the track.
Surprisingly, it’s the second track ‘Ticklish Warrior’ that steals the show. The song begins with a fun riff that quickly turns into a garage rock influenced, high intensity track. Here Dwyer takes a different approach with his vocal delivery as he shouts more often than not, his voice echoing off of the wall of sound produced by this track. Much like ‘Ticklish Warrior’, ‘Gelatinous Cube’ incorporates a punk influenced sound and adds a sense of dynamics, aided by the two sets of drummers found on this album. Thee Oh Sees are at their best when they are infectiously catchy and high energy, and if these two tracks tell us anything it’s that they still know how to have some fun. Thee Oh Sees are completely comfortable staying right where they are, a nook in between psychedelic rock and indie pop sensibilities, and, if anything, A Weird Exits
demonstrates just that.