The band has you in its grips from the get-go. Album-opener “The Last Nostalgia,” released as a single/teaser for the record last month, chugs along with scraped guitar lines that sound like they’re being played backward, pounding drums, thudding bass, and Besinger, when he’s not dissecting time as a “multi-faceted prismatic event,” wailing “You’re back in time again!” It’s all gravy from there, with excellent outtakes like the bombastic “King Vulture Vista” (which wouldn’t be out of place on Dignified Sissy, the group’s more art-punkish debut), the bouncy “Marseille Spleen,” the anthemic “Sunbathing,” and “Soft Moon Warm Spider,” where Nelson and Burt give in to the urge to let their guitar pedals do the talking and a good chunk of the main verse sounds like a sweet, supersonic jetwave.
But listing four or five songs in an effort to summarize greatness is hardly giving the album its due, and the band sustains a kind of manic energy on songs like the explosive “Storming The Medical Frigate,” where Besinger just loses his shit. (It’s something to be heard, for sure.) But then, there’s the oddball drum-and-vocal exercise “Top Hat Man,” where Besinger regains said shit for, regretfully, what amounts to kind of a forgettable low point. (And, for the record, I like “Pasties and A G String.”) But the lulls don’t last more a minute or two. The band’s closes with a catchy surprise and a good bit of redemption: a vaguely melancholic “Miami,” where, again, Besinger’s highly conceptual lyricism about geographical culture captures your attention.
You could pretty much drop a needle anywhere on this thing and find a reason to listen to the whole thing. It’s good to have these guys back in the fold and back on the stereo.
“I was born hypnotized/became a veteran of pleasure,” Besinger roars on the title track. Indeed. Well, thank you for that, good sir. Now we are, too.