I feel a little guilty as I have been living with this album for two months now and only just got round to posting a review. So why the self-induced angst? Well I loved the French band’s debut from last year and pretty much anyone with a passing interest in 60s psych who stepped through my door got to hear at least a snatch of it.
But when I first listened to the follow up, All Unrevealed Parts of the Unknown, I was little a underwhelmed. For me the band’s debut worked because of their magpie-esque approach to pinching from their influences and sticking then into their musical blender. So opener Supernovae was sitar-driven Brian Jonestown Massacre influenced drone pop with ace tribal drumming, while the moody organ pop of I’ll Be There recalled Rupert’s People. Sure, much of the album sat within the realms of 60s influenced psych, but you never could guess exactly what was coming next.
For this album TSDOS have honed their sound and in comparison with its predecessor it all sounds a lot more uniform. It is still very much rooted in the late 60s psych tradition, but if anything the band have metaphysically crossed The Atlantic and started channelling more garage psych bands of the type that pop up up on Nuggets and Pebbles comps as opposed to the more Perfumed Garden Brit psych of before. So there’s a lot more Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Strawberry Alarm Clock and hundreds of other band with ludicrous names on this album than the first.
Then after about the fourth or fifth listen this album began to click. The opening track The Void, which I had written off as a slightly dull BJM influenced drone, flowered into gorgeously sweet floaty organ driven tune that I wanted to play again and again. Over The Top, with its manic twangy guitar suddenly blossomed into a minor garage punk classic courtesy of its inventive and rather surprising instrumental break.
What makes this album fun is that pretty much every track has some instrumental flourish that, after a few spins become really rather addictive. So there’s a hint of Eight Miles High in the guitar break of Over The Top while Magic Mirror has a driving guitar riff which then has to battle for your attention with a wonderfully squeaky organ solo.
Best of all is the finale The Love Substitute, which sees the band slow things down, add a touch of something that sounds like brass, and then speed things up in the chorus. It is as smart and as catchy as the records than inspired it and in 2014 there aren’t many higher accolades than that.
If you liked that first album make sure you give this one your fullest attention – it really does massively reward repeat listens.
Incidentally the band’s earliest recordings, Uniform, are also available now too. Track four This Vision Of You, is the one to play first.