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Psychic Ills - One Track Mind

Psychic Ills - One Track Mind

by , 12 February 2013

New York quintet Psychic Ills are not going to reinvent the wheel. In fact, they're not really going to go out of their way to do much of anything. On their fourth LP, One Track Mind, the band attempt the kind of psych 60s revivalist soundscape that calls to mind such groups as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but their employment of only the most basic rules of the genre (open chords, repetition, lazy southern vocal drawl, repetition and more repetition) results in what can only be described as a lazy attempt to slip themselves under the currently-hip umbrella of "neo-psychedelia".

Opener 'One More Time' sees the band at their sloppiest; apathetic vocals followed by minimalistic leads straight from the Rock-Licks 101 handbook. Follower and highlight 'See You There' is a slightly more atmospheric affair: the phasing guitar line lending some sense of dynamics to a repetitive rhythm section. But once again, there is no attempt at any kind of memorable vocal hook, and the inclusion of slide guitar seems just an excuse to tick another box on the blues-rock checklist. The group change the pace on 'Tried To Find'; but that is literally all they do. Rather than bring in some new song structure, or vocal texture, the band instead simply slow down what could otherwise be any other song on the album. And so what could have been a refreshing departure is instead just a sluggish shuffle over the halfway point of One Track Mind.

We begin side B with 'FBI', which sees a sparse use of instrumentation with positive results. The band seems, for a few minutes, to realise some kind of cohesion- the percussive backbone of the track is a pulsing backdrop for the ambiguous declarations of "working for the CIA," and the messy guitar doesn't sound forced. But 'Get By' sees a return to the predictable, only now with added Eastern Sitar drone for extra psychedelic authenticity, whilst 'City Sun' tries to evoke the travelling blues the way only a acoustic guitar and harmonica can. 'Western Metaphor' sees the band have a hand at "jamming", but it instead seems that they simply forgot to track vocals for what is otherwise a monotonous, overly-long interlude. Closer 'Drop Out' is aptly titled, and sees the album come full circle; ending on the uninventive note on which it started.

The issue with One Track Mind is that it does to some end have a cohesive aesthetic; a group of (probably) stoners playing music to smoke to with no real concern for achieving any lofty artistic ambitions. But it isn't an endearing one - it simply results in a tedious listen that will neither serve as a catalyst for any psychedelic trip or complement any Saturday night hot-boxing. When put in the same context as contemporaries such as Tame Impala, Psychic Ills simply pale in comparison due to their refusal to push any kind of envelope. This is non-essential at best.

Rating: 4/10

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