Sic Alps - Sic Alps

‘Sic Alps’ is an often fine, often frustrating listen.

Label: Drag City

Rating: 6

San Francisco’s Sic Alps’ fifth album is a unashamed paean to the golden era of Bay Area psychedelia and sixties garage rock. The band’s previous effort, 2011’s ‘Napa Asylum’, was a sprawling 22-track double album; this eponymous follow-up trims and distills the excess into ten tracks of fuzzy, often anarchic-sounding melodious noise. The addition to the ranks of Joanna Newsom collaborator Ryan Francesconi on string arrangements lends a marginally more baroque finish to the cacophony but it’s still a predominantly messy affair.

At their best, Sic Alps resemble a relatively sane Syd Barrett fronting Guided By Voices. The tinny production results in songs like ‘Lazee Son’ and ‘Tylacine Man’ seem like half-composed outtakes, recorded in a matchbox.

But, lo-fi and behold, there are some gems to be discovered amid the rough, especially when the band crank up the proceedings and actually make the effort to finish their songs. ‘Moviehead’ and ‘God Bless Her, I Miss Her’ dispense with the sonic distress and promulgate a more consistent straight-up homage to the ‘Revolver’ and ‘Village Green’ era of power pop while ‘Polka Vat’ is the most lavish song on offer here, the piano and swathes of guitar fully formulating out what could have been another fragment. ‘Sic Alps’ is an often fine, often frustrating listen which only succeeds when some flesh is applied to those skinny Californian bones.