Thee Oh Sees are like the house band from Hell – and I mean that in the best way. With their memorable, menacing take on psychedelic pop, they actually sound like the band you would hear on the escalator down to eternal damnation. As such, this means a lot of playing, and indeed the Bay Area band is prolific. Putrifiers II (out September 11 on In the Red) marks the band’s 14th album of their career and their third in two years. So, shifts in tempo are not entirely unexpected and that is what we have here.
The album begins with “Heavy Doctor,” a rocker that showcases many of the band’s best characteristics: fuzzy, propulsive guitar; distorted tonality and harmonies between John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson, and Dwyer’s wolf-like yelps. From there, the record downshifts and rarely revs back up with “Lupine Dominus”, the locked-in, krautrock-leaning lead single, being the most notable exception. The album skirts beside various ideas without ever establishing any real cogency. And this doesn’t make it bad, just disparate.
The band reaches across the pond for Brian Eno-esque engineering on “So Nice”, Zombie-like britpop on “Flood’s New Light,” and Mancunian melancholy on the title track, to name three of the more interesting examples. These new songs will surely provide welcome catch-your-breath moments amid the band’s haywire live set, but look back in the band’s extensive catalogue for better summertime burners. For fans of Thee Oh Sees, though fear not: here’s yet another one for you to enjoy on your long march to the grave.