Oh Sees (they recently chopped off the ‘Thee’ because why not?) are nothing if not prolific. ‘ORC’ is their 19th album (under many names, most only just varying from each other) in their 20 years together. Yet, even as they celebrate two decades as the kings of America’s psych scene, they show no signs of becoming stale.
‘ORC’ is exactly what you’d expect. That’s not to say it’s predictable - not in the slightest - but the band have built up a reputation for crafting mad canvases of sound, full of wild solos and narcotic energy. This album is no different on that front.
The group have described themselves as sounding “more evil” on this record and that’s mostly true. ‘Nite Expo’ begins with a synth intro that sounds like entering a Dungeons & Dragons world, John’s croaked vocal contorting him into a medieval villain. ‘Paranoise’, a widdling instrumental (save for creepy whispers and barks buried deep into the mix), ends with a startling bang in the form of a clap of thunder. It’s immediately followed by a steady drip of rain and casts a giant black cloud over the record.
‘Keys To The Castle’, meanwhile, sounds slightly lighter, but the lyrics have other ideas. “Fling yourself from upper belfry,” John gently urges at one point, before observing “Piles of bodies fill the garden”. Delightful.
Oh Sees could never stay so one-track minded, though. ‘Cadaver Dog’ brings some tiny glimmer of brightness, its loping groove winding around synth drones while shimmering guitars pierce through triumphantly. Perhaps album 20 will take them, whatever their name is then, fully back into the light. For now, ‘ORC”s darkness suits us fine.