Cured By The Blur
The general trend in the modern psych-rock revival favors sonics over songs. For most bands, the goal seems to be to create a thick, effects-laden atmosphere to obscure the vocals and song structure, and then let the resulting fog of sound ebb and flow. The new album from Milwaukee’s Sleepcomesdown doesn’t skimp on the reverb and swirling noises, but Cured By The Blur succeeds with tight, punchy compositions that are enhanced by the blur rather than overpowered by it.
The Black Angels are an obvious touchstone; “Float Like An Echo” and “Late To The Chase” have the heavy reverb and The Velvet Underground droning pulse, and there are solid melodies buried not too deeply in the tunes, particularly via Steve Ruppa’s buzzsaw guitar leads. But the pace and style of the album fit much more neatly in the realm of post-punk, sometimes reminiscent of another up-and-coming Milwaukee band, The Delphines. Sleepcomesdown adds a lot more spacey effects and overtly psychedelic interludes, however, but the results aren’t cluttered. Dylan Zocchi’s spiraling synth doodles chase Ruppa’s guitar textures back and forth across Krautrockish beats on tracks like “Hot Knives” and “Cured By The Blur,” but the resulting swells of intensity are expertly crafted, not just noisy and weird.
Despite its attempts to trip you out, the album’s 46 minutes cruise by at a pretty relentless pace, due equally to the driving tempos and the many intriguing musical rabbit holes. “Retracer,” which appeared on the Milwaukee Psych Fest compilation from earlier this year, is a grungy, new-wave groove that would have Mark Mothersbaugh improvising a new Devo song on the spot, with an insistent synth line that sounds like a digital baritone sax. Even the instrumental “Distant Visions” finds numerous ways to briskly move its plot along as the guitars shift between Andy Summers-style clanging, intergalactic pings and waves, and quasi-metallic riffage while the insistent bass line propels the whole thing along.
It’s a risky move putting the slower tunes toward the end, but the halting stomp of “Magic Mirror” and the pastoral “We Disappear” provide a welcome breather after the high-speed barrage while still maintaining a tense ambience. The only real resolution comes in the woozy outro track “OK Houston,” which finds the band finally giving in to pure spacey indulgence. It’s a justifiable comedown, though; Cured By The Blur is a demanding listen with very little filler, so the mellow sendoff is only common courtesy.
Sleepcomesdown celebrates the release of Cured By The Blur Friday, September 20 at the Riverwest Public House. The Albertans, Fahri, and Heartthrob open the show.