Although West is the third album by Wooden Shjips, it is the first of their releases to be recorded in a standard recording studio with a producer (Phil Manley of Phil Manley's Life Coach and Trans Am). As well as this it has been mastered by Pete Kember, aka Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3, a man whose band are an obvious and central influence on the Wooden Shjips sound. The progression from those earlier, self-released albums recorded in their rehearsal space is subtle but significant. Although their lovely psychedelic fuzz is still at the core of their sound, on West it is more focused and dare I say more refined than on their previous efforts.

The album title and the aerial shot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the cover serve to emphasise the general influence of the west coast of America, and San Francisco in particular. As well as the huge debt they owe to UK psychedelic guitar bands like Loop and the aforementioned Spacemen 3, West is also shot through with a heady dose of Bay Area garage-rock, and artists like the Doors and the Seeds are bound to crop up when this album is being discussed. Having said that, for all the blatant wearing your influences on your sleeve, with West, Wooden Shjips have made an album that transcends the past. It begins with 'Black Smoke Rise', a heavy groove with some seriously fuzzy guitars, then 'Crossing' slows the pace a little. On first hearing 'Crossing' is a dead-ringer for Loop's 'Collision', but it takes that repetitive riff and makes it it's own, and that skilfulness in taking older elements and working them into your own sound is a feature of this album.

One of the most accessible tracks is 'Lazy Bones' which couples their sound with a busy Bo Diddley beat to create a slice of upbeat garage rock. Both 'Lazy Bones' and the Suicide-influenced, organ dominated 'Looking Out' have a more poppy feel and are a welcome development from the straightforward psychedelic trance which Wooden Shjips have been associated with up until now.

Talking of psychedelic trance, both 'Flight' and 'Home' will keep fans of their previous albums happy. Both built around powerful repetitive riffs, but with a new clarity and edge to them, those noodling guitar solos seem essential and do not outstay their welcome.

The album ends with a curio in 'Rising' – a track which is played completely backwards – the drums and vocals are unsettling and strange, but those guitars keep on driving along and don't sound any different, it seems they are coated in so much reverb that you don't know whether you are coming or going. Of course that's a good thing, and fits in well with the overall psychedelic vibe.

West is an album that wears its influences proudly, but ultimately it succeeds by taking those sounds from the past and working them into something new and something worthy of their own name. My previous encounters with this band have left me craving some Loop, Spacemen 3 or Suicide. With 'West' they have created something that gives them their own identity.