Post Animal‘s debut album harkens back to the progenitors of vintage psychedelia and metal/stoner rock. Think Black Sabbath, Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and contemporary psych rock pioneered by the likes of Kevin Parker and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’.
Influences protrude in different forms throughout – the crumbling breakdown of ‘Gelatin Mode’ bears an uncanny resemblance to ‘Lonerism’s ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ – but the album is never wholly derivative. ‘Gelatin Mode’s stomping guitars, drone-like vocal hypnotism and Barrett-squee whimsicalness give it a comprehensive dynamism that will make even the staunchest of Tame Impala fans abstain from accusations of infringement.
The guitar coda in ‘Heart Made of Metal’ recalls the opening track on Sabbath’s eponymous album, also called ‘Black Sabbath’. It sort of goes without saying that Post Animal don’t reach the level of intense trepidation as the forefathers of metal, but their use – or abuse – of ‘the devil’s interval’ tritone is effective nonetheless.
Post Animal often walk the gangway of uncertainty between adrenaline fuelled, surly rock and roll and a kind of dulcet lethargy, vacillating between sounds that are invigorating or tranquillizing. Nevertheless they successfully marry the two styles throughout, reconciling frenetic energy with laconic bliss to make speedfreaks out of opioid junkies and vice versa. Lethargic arpeggios, airy lustres and rippling synths commingle in kaleidoscopic habitats, either to fade out or else be injected with splintering guitar distortion. Tranquillity is only ever promised indefinitely in this castle.
There’s a really sinister, Lynchian intro to ‘One Thing’, one chord that lasts nowhere near as long as it should. There’s no doubt that the band has some acquaintance with baleful and supernatural themes – one of their contributing members is Joe Keery who played Steve in ‘Stranger Things’. Consider the fact that they’ve been touring with a band called Twin Peaks and it does seem that there’s this underbelly of the supernatural in their music. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence, but regardless it makes an impression. It’d be great to hear more than just a ten second soundbite at the start of the song, but then again that’s what’s so exciting about the idea of these dark forces. They might elude us, we might blink and miss them, but they never truly lay dormant.
Lyrics vary throughout, sometimes personal and confessional, ‘I can’t tell this girl what’s on my mind’, in ‘Ralphie’, sometimes dejected, ‘I can see you soaring high up in the sky/ While I’m stuck in hell’, in ‘Heart Made of Metal’, and often wistful, ‘I close my eyes and travel somewhere far away/ You’re still the one thing on my mind’, in ‘One Thing’. Course, it wouldn’t be a real psychedelic rock album if lyrics about escape and human consciousness didn’t feature. ‘Heart Made of Metal’ points a finger at those who fail to connect with the present moment – ‘Running through life so aimlessly/ Closing your eyes to everything in sight’ – while ‘Tire Eyes’ displays a self referential awareness of the tropes of the genre – ‘So forget about your day and let this record float you away’. While they’re obviously hippy platitudes that we’ve all heard before, it’s surely some kind of hypnagogic heresy to deny them the right to use these token ideas when their music clearly stands up.
‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’ presents all the beauty of the rabbit hole, catatonic resplendence and blissful euphoria. But don’t get too comfortable. The album maintains the sinister underbelly of Carroll‘s Wonderland. The acid snarls and skeletons lurking in the shadows on sunny days. Kings and regal luxuries aside, every castle has a dungeon. The rabbit hole remains open.
The full track listing for ‘When I Think of You In A Castle’ is…
1 Everywhere All At Once Lyrics
2 Gelatin Mode Lyrics
3 Tire Eyes Lyrics
4 Ralphie Lyrics
5 Heart Made of Metal Lyrics
6 Castle Lyrics
7 Special Moment Lyrics
8 Victory Lap-Danger Zone Lyrics
9 One Thing Lyrics
10 Dirtpicker Lyrics
11 Susie Lyrics