Canada's best psych rock band, Black Mountain, took a number of risks with their new album, and they've largely paid off. The Vancouver five-piece forwent self-production in favour of outside assistance from not one but two producers, L.A.'s D. Sardy (Nine Inch Nails, Spoon, LCD Soundsystem) and Seattle's Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth). The L.A. songs float and swirl, evoking Pink Floyd, Big Star and kaleidoscopic folk. The Seattle ones are heavier, darker and sometimes thrust toward metal. (The almost cheesy Let Spirits Ride could be a lost Judas Priest track.)
That Black Mountain can seamlessly marry such opposite genres and recording sessions is proof of their mastery and inimitability. The producers have also curbed self-indulgent tendencies - these tunes are concise, efficient and burst with energy. Amber Webber's wobbly falsetto sidles sweetly against Steve McBean's raw croon, the lyrics are obliquely eerie, the riffs satisfyingly thunderous. And, oh, those synth lines! Some might lament the increased accessibility and decreased experimentation, but it doesn't take long to realize that these tracks do as much in four minutes as the 18-minute epics in Black Mountain's past.
Top track: Rollercoaster
Black Mountain play the Phoenix October 31.