Psych Fuck Album Review
Review by Andy Uzzell, originally published in Days of Purple and Orange
Singapore Sling are a bit of a legend in psych circles, pre-empting the current explosion in all things fuzzy by some years. Formed in Iceland in 2000, the band have released some 7 albums prior to Psych Fuck, the last three of which have been on Fuzz Club, that bastion of fuzzy goodness.
I first became aware of the band when they contributed a track to a tribute album to The Monks ('I Hate You' on the Silver Monk Time: A Tribute to The Monks), a coruscating reworking of the garage punk legends. Psych Fuck is split into two sides, named, somewhat unsurprisingly, 'Psych' and 'Fuck', and is a dark trip into the noir side of life.
The 'Psych' side opens with 'Dive In', a cover of fellow Icelanders Quarashi, and straight away we are thrown into the throbbing abyss of a Suicide rhythm and ringing garage punk guitars, the twin vocals of founder Henrik Björnsson and his sister Anna portraying dread-laden ennui.
'Let It Roll, Let It Rise' has the menace of gothabilly legends Deadbolt and the fuzzed out vocals of The Jesus And Mary Chain; it swaggers, rolls and rises. ‘ÆJL’ comes on like a neo-psych version of The Litter's 'Action Woman', demanding action and satisfaction, and it certainly gives satisfaction! The addition of some organ gives the track a more melodic aspect.
'Na Na Now' has more than a touch of the Velvets; Henrik's vocals even have the same timbre as Lou Reed and the same laconic introspection. 'Try' channels the band's inner Sisters Of Mercy, the guitars could have come directly from the Sisters' Reptile House EP and the vocals have the same menacing depth and tone. 'The Underground' sees a twist in the psych tail; a bucolic trip to the old west, the trotting rhythm accompanied by pseudo countrified guitar, but it works!
The 'Fuck' side opens with 'Dying Alive' with Henrik once again joined by Anna on vocals, the twin vocals sometimes discordant, sometimes in perfect harmony, all over the top of an electronic motorik rhythm. 'Give Me Some Other' is lyrically simple but sometimes less is more eh? The music is driven by a Dick Dale guitar and jaunty percussion.
'Glitter' is a glorious gallimaufry of noise and sound; the crashing drums, ringing guitars and fuzzed out vocals all make for a wonderful 'wall of sound' straight out of Phil Spector's nightmares. 'Astronaut' is a childhood dream soundtracked by JAMC; it's the nearest this album comes to 'happy'. 'Shithole Town' is an understated paean to urban love. Once again, a comparison to the Velvets is inevitable but this time the slower, more introspective side to the VU.
The album is brought to a close by 'The Tower Of Foronicity' (also the name of the last album.) The intro is reminiscent of 'The Spirit of the Sky' and the track provides a musically optimistic and lyrically pessimistic finale; " When you think you're at the top, you're already at the bottom". The jauntiness of the shimmering guitar and sparkling percussion belying the inevitability and inconsequence of existence.
Certainly in 2015, Fuzz Club have not put a foot wrong; every release has been of the highest quality and this album is no different. 'Psych Fuck' has an artful chiaroscuro about it, much the same as the Iceland of the band's origin; the beauty of the landscape in stark contrast to the long, cold nights. It is an album of shimmering beauty and texture and has shape and flow. Another Fuzz Club release that will figure highly on the inevitable 'End of Year' lists, and rightly so. 'Psych Fuck' is available from the Fuzz Club store - the deluxe edition of the LP is sold out but the CD and regular vinyl are still available.