Ten years after his band became the anarchic subjects of Ondi Timoner’s cult documentary ‘Dig!’, Anton Newcombe is a teetotal stay-at-home dad in Berlin. It’s tempting to think of that kind of stability blunting creativity: after all, in the ’90s The Brian Jonestown Massacre built their reputation on Newcombe’s magnetic/repulsive personality – driven by heavy drug use and frequently resulting in mid-set punch-ups – as much as their records (which never sold that well anyway).
It’s a trick the band pull off repeatedly and almost entirely successfully on ‘Revelation’. Opening track ‘Vad Hände Med Dem’ pairs The BJM’s trademark strum with a distorted Swedish vocal and a motorik drum beat, and ‘Unknown’ takes tips from Syd Barrett’s whacked-out solo career. ‘Xibalba’ and ‘Goodbye (Butterfly)’ approach pastoral pop, while ‘Second Sighting’ goes the whole psych-folk hog.
Freakier still are the instrumental ‘Duck and Cover’ (appropriately apocalyptic) and ‘Memorymix’: the soundtrack to the grooviest, smokiest basement party that you never managed to get into. It turns out that The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s embrace of the tripped-out past makes them sound astonishingly relevant in psych-obsessed 2014. Add to that some top-drawer songwriting, and ‘Revelation’ ends up well towards the top end of the band’s long and complicated discography. Dig it.
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