Review Summary: "ANFtW" is a continuation of the quality we've come to expect from them after a brilliant past 3 years of music. It adds some new playfulness to the psychedelic charm of the past albums and is a consistently fun experience to add to their discography
In the stretch between 2016 and '17, the boys over at Psychedelic Porn Crumpets could do no wrong: 2 stellar albums in a row followed by a B-Sides EP that, while not being as great, proved they had a great sense of quality control. The whole "High Visceral" project is nearly 2 hours in running time, and is an extremely rewarding musical experience. This latest release however is a more straightforward (incredibly short) listen and sees the band opting for an almost entirely different sound and atmosphere from that of their previous work.
The record wastes no time diving into its 30-minute runtime, entering with driving guitar distortion with the excellent Keen for Kick Ons"
. This style of song is pretty common on the album: a more driving feel than the spacey soundstages of "High Visceral". With an interest in creating an audio "carnival", the band make way more light-hearted cuts on this LP with tracks such as Bill's Mandolin
opting for a more playful vibe. There are moments on these tracks that do break into the regular psychedelia seen in the last 2 albums however, which really round out the albums' sound.
Speaking of the sound, this album is entirely self-produced, which creates some interesting sounds but also some caveats. At times, the production is very full and well rounded, especially on the songs that really need a full sound to be conveyed properly (looking at you, Native Tongue
). However, there are songs that perform a complete one-eighty on this ethos and opt for a more treble-heavy sound. This creates quite the contrast, as half of the album sounds pretty flat, while the other half is full of life and character. While that's not necessarily a bad thing - it does add to the carnival/circus atmosphere they're attempting - it makes for a pretty schizophrenic listen at times. As such, the album's cohesion is so-so: it works incredibly well for the 'driving' tracks, though when one of them wants to transition into a song with a bigger soniscape it sounds a little disjointed. In this sense, the run from Social Candy
to When in Rome
particularly suffers despite these songs all being fantastic.
As mentioned earlier, the album is painfully short clocking in at 33 minutes - even shorter than Foals' or Hail the Sun's latest releases. Like the production, this has its positives and glaring negatives. The tracks that are designed to be a little more repetitive such as My Friend's a Liquid
or Bill's Mandolin
do not overstay their welcome whatsoever; they leave their mark and then swiftly exit. Because of this these songs turn out as really excellent ones and they leave ample breathing room for the longer songs which are also absolute treats, Hymn for a Droid
and When in Rome
being definite highlights and some of my favourite songs of this year. Despite this, the songs that have a little more experimentation to them don't get to develop as much as they perhaps should and the prog-esque song structures seen in "High Visceral" aren't as common. This creates a real sense of wasted potential on the tracks Fields, Woods, Time
and Native Tongue
. While the former is just an interlude track that could've been developed into something even more beautiful, the latter is a dreamy cut that I could definitely have seen as an Addled Abstraction of Being
-type of centrepiece for the album. Fortunately, the material that is already on the song is good enough to not make it a huge pitfall. Following this, Digital Hunger
is an entirely new thing for the band: a jazzy instrumental piece with effects pedals and upbeat drums layered throughout. It was a really nice surprise going into this song and it is real hidden gem for the back-end of the album.
While it may seem like all the gripes make the album not worth it, I'm really nitpicking at this point because despite all of the negatives this record is still superb. It combines the big ambiance of "High Visceral" with a new playful sensibility that the band convey very well. It builds with heavy distortion and a pitch-perfect rhythm section until the release of the closer Dezi's Adventure
fading in after the end of Digital Hunger
, carrying the jazzy drumming with it and adds some organs, keys and more excellent vocals on top. It is a great closer, and perfectly sums up the sound the band wanted to achieve on "And Now For the Whatchamacallit":
"The original concept was to take a 1930's carnival that had been re-imagined for future generations, a collage of Punch and Judy, Carousels and coconut shy's that progresses in musical concepts and travels with the listener"
Overall, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets latest album is a continuation of the quality we've come to expect from them after a brilliant past 3 years of music. Fortunately, it is not more of the same, it creates an entirely new light-hearted atmosphere whilst retaining the spacey charm of the previous albums. While some tracks are not as developed as they perhaps should have been and the runtime is very very short, "And Now For the Whatchamacallit" is a consistently excellent release and once again leaves me very excited to hear whatever they concoct next.
"Hymn for a Droid"
"My Friend's a Liquid"
"When in Rome"