Album Review: The Purrs, “The Boy With Astronaut Eyes”

Written by CD Reviews, Music

The Boy With Astronaut Eyes finds The Purrs in a particularly joyful state of mind, and sounding perhaps the most invigorated and pumped up they’ve ever been.

The Purrs promo

The Purrs, "The Boy With Astronaut Eyes"After a dozen years on the scene, consistently playing and perfecting that hazy shoegazy psych-pop flavor of rock that takes the melodicism of Oasis and pairs it with the stoner vibe of Brian Jonestown Massacre, one would think there would be little else The Purrs could say at this point in their career. And one would be wrong.

As it turns out, The Boy With Astronaut Eyes finds The Purrs in a particularly joyful state of mind, and sounding perhaps the most invigorated and pumped up they’ve ever been. Sure, “The Promises We Made” may open the record with a tale of a frustratingly dysfunctional relationship that moves from place to place all over the globe, but it kicks with a punked-up energy that electrocutes your seat. Watch out, you’re gonna have to jump up and pogo from the first few notes.

Of course, drugs still play a part in Purrs mythology, with “You, The Medicine And Me” continuing in that time honored tradition. The difference this time, however, can be attributed to the latest rhythm guitarist to fill that Spinal Tap-like revolving door in the Purrs. Liz Herrin blends in seamlessly, and her effortless response vocals to Jima’s typically charismatic lead add a new and welcome aural twist.

But even among lighthearted stories of party-going characters like “Cemetary Johnny,” a come-on to a comely “Cracked Head” and the comically genuine declaration of love that is “So Fucking Beautiful,” we can still count on The Purrs for gems of wisdom like “everyone everywhere leaves a hole at some point in time,” in the contemplative “The Fire Next Door.” And, as if saying goodbye to the troubled past that kept The Purrs from sounding this peppy in quite some time, Jima declares “don’t you know I’m through with you” in the album’s most personal and painful song, the lovely “Your Favorite Color.”

Even the cover art of this album is brighter than what we’ve come to expect from The Purrs, sporting a pattern of circular green, blue and purple images against an almost-white background. This is perhaps the thing that keeps this record from being too happy-go-lucky – it’s almost white. Almost lighthearted. Almost celebratory. There’s still an undercurrent of darkness at play, especially in Jima’s voice and certainly in Jason Milne’s guitar playing too, not to mention the distant reverbed melancholy of Liz Herrin’s background vocals. This is what makes The Purrs so great, and so real. They don’t deny the dark side, but they certainly know how to have a good time. After all the years they’ve spent on the road, they certainly deserve it.