Cave’s version of heavy psychedelic rock revolves around the concept that less can be infinitely more if the distortion and volume levels both peak out. This minimal-maximalist approach is understandably hit-or-miss on Psychic Psummer: the opener “Gamm” has the bludgeoning thunder and four-color rainbow of the best of noodley, instrumental acid rock. It’s repetitive, propulsive, but still very formless and whips through its six-plus minute run time on its inertia alone. The similarly-sized “Encino Men” doesn’t fare as well. Too quickly it gets mired in cheesy dubbed-out vocals and ironic synth textures and is only salvaged by the Stereolab-esque groove it eventually falls into in its last minutes.
“Machines and Muscles,” perhaps the best song on the disc, sounds something like a wordless J-pop cover of a Modern Lovers song. Its sprightliness and lack of affectation are a nice, enjoyable counterpoint to the band’s more ponderous tendencies.
It’s far from a definitive statement of its genre, but Psychic Psummer is fired by more lucid synapses than some of its contemporaries and that bodes well for future Cave releases.
Important Records: www.importantrecords.com