Upgrades can’t save White Fence’s psych-rock from getting stale
B-

Upgrades can’t save White Fence’s psych-rock from getting stale

B-

White Fence

Album: For The Recently Found Innocent
Label: Drag City

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For throwback garage-psych conservator Tim Presley, last year’s Cyclops Reap turned slight tweaks—more prevalent hooks and an increased pop focus—into the most cohesive and promising White Fence album yet. To record For The Recently Found Innocent, he sought to build off those baby steps toward accessibility, venturing outside the confines of his home and into likeminded retro-rocker Ty Segall’s studio (which is in Segall’s home, but, hey, still counts). But while the effort breaks new ground for White Fence on the fidelity front, and adds an additional smidgen of needed consistency to Presley’s fuzz-jam fragments, it passes on the opportunity to do anything truly new; now five albums in, White Fence remains hopelessly mired in faithful reenactments of the British Invasion.

Luckily, Presley is one of the most qualified purveyors of such replications out there, and Segall’s production wisely sheds feedback to create space for cleaner, more streamlined melodies. A highlight of the record, “Sandra (When The Earth Dies),” relies on little more than a basic acoustic strum, a three-note tap of electronic organ, and an off-center drum rhythm for a sweetly simple pop morsel that sounds like Syd Barrett fronting The Kinks. Sounding more like The Who is “Like That,” a colorful, up-tempo, reverb-tinged, falsetto-driven mod rocker, while “Hard Water” continues Presley’s twang-meets-jangle experiments from Cyclops Reap. That track sounds an awful lot like The Byrds.

In keeping with this straightforward homage and nostalgia-worship, Presley opted not to use For The Recently Found Innocent (nor the production assistance and studio resources available for it) to find a personal take on his musical influences. Indeed, given that he’s already done that once—with his sadly overlooked former band Darker My Love—it’s entirely possible that he has never intended White Fence to be anything more than an ongoing quasi-tribute act. If Presley does intend to eventually move his quirky revivalist scraps in an original direction, however, the adjustments need to be more meaningful than what he’s willing to do here. 

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