In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
As a kid, I fucking hated the smell of incense. My mom, hippie that she was, burned it in the house constantly, and its acrid stench was about as appealing to my 6-year-old self as a pot of coffee poured down my throat might have been. I still don’t like incense very much—but I’ve been very tempted to light up a noxious twig of Nag Champa lately in honor of Purson. In particular, “Leaning On A Bear”—the lead single off the English group’s debut full-length, The Circle And The Blue Door, released in April—evokes every surreal, hazy afternoon in the ’70s where the sounds of classic rock would be oozing out of our windows like, well, you know.
Purson’s frontwoman Rosalie Cunningham—who, at the age of 21, has had as much direct experience with the 1970s as she has the 1770s—channels obscure British folk-rock like Mellow Candle, occult doom à la Pentagram, and a bit of Beatles-by-way-of-Black Sabbath melodicism. But there’s more than mere revivalism to “Leaning On A Bear.” Beneath its thick fog of vintage witchery is a progressive yet timeless knack for songwriting, one that uproots my brain rather than drags it backward. Then again, incense wasn’t all my mom was burning in the house when I was a kid, so I might just be having some kind of contact-high flashback or something. But no matter: “Leaning On A Bear” packs all the trippy, musky atmosphere it needs.