Over the past couple years, a handful of lo-fi garage bands have popped up, seemingly overtaken by a divine mission to flood the market with as much crackled psychedelia as we’re willing to stomach. It could be a defense mechanism, allowing them to hide, when the critics come knocking, behind a nice thick wall built from countless strawberry-sweet melodies. It’s probably much more innocent, but regardless, the ideas keep coming, and as long as they do the band’s keep writing, or sketching, and putting them to record. So, what happens when the spicket dries up? Are the Ty Segall’s of the world headed for a peak oil-type crisis when the juices of 60’s derivative tuneage fade away?
White Fence’s Tim Presley, with his new album, Cyclops Reap, is making quite the argument for tapping the breaks. The record, his fifth in 3 years (yeah, wow), is a more restrained outing than anything he’s done before. While it’s not technically his shortest, clocking in at a little over half an hour, it’s only got 11 tracks - a major downsizing from his usual 16+. The tipping point may have been last year’s Family Perfume series, a massive, 30 track double album that failed to traverse the numerous pitfalls that lay in wait for any project quite so ambitious. Reap is a different beast all together. Songs have been given time to grow and mature, rather than being shoved aside when the next whim hits, and the next, and the next.
With the help of a deep breath and a quick pause, Presley has managed to create a little universe of his own - one of thin gray skies, the sun peeking out through holes in the blanket here and there, never quite disappearing, and identical houses with vinyl siding and plastic lawn ornaments stretching out forever. We’re camped out on the cracked pavement, sipping lemonade in our old beach chairs. At some point, it doesn’t matter if that rising and falling volley of chirps is coming out of a guitar or a keyboard. It drifts through the smoggy air and disappears like some paranormal event, and it’s useless to try and explain.
Every song is layered with at least three guitar tracks, each sporting its own distinct voice. Tinny, fat, sharp, warm - the textures are endless, and exciting. Cyclops Reap is an album that will make you feel good, and Tim Presley’s well on his way to leaping above the pack to write his name in the big book of psych-rock history.