With the countless garage bands that have cropped up in recent years it can be hard to filter the diamonds in the rough. Thee Oh Sees are veterans at this game, with their extensive back catalogue and numerous incarnations, and they should be the jewel in this very mucky crown. At times they are.
The album has the familiar, slightly ironic, crackly, garage production value which follows a quiet / loud formulae with a few unconventional curveballs thrown in. ‘Corrupted Coffin’ is like something Ted Bundy would go skateboarding to and title track, ‘Castlemania’ is probably what the inside of David Lynch’s head sounds like. Interestingly, it’s when the slower, summery laid back, Violent Femme-esque tracks crop up, the albums experience is at its best, but still not perfect. ‘Pleasure Blimps’ (yes, really) offers “la la laa’s”, “ooohs” and a playful glockenspiel, ‘Blood On The Deck’ is half surf pop brilliance and half psych-tinged nonsense.
Every track has tiny glimmers of musical brilliance, some brighter than others - which are ultimately let down by poor execution or bizarre off-kilter production decisions. As a result, it is too often the case of a combination of musical ineptitude and killer hooks. At times Thee Oh Sees have it nailed. Unfortunately, its more the former than the latter.
Somehow, ‘Castlemania’ is paradoxically a masterclass in DIY ramshackle brilliance and an incomplete E-grade college music project. Wonky “out there” guitar lines, disjointed time signatures, hypnotic buzz saw wig-outs and vocals that sound like Moe Szyslak from the Simpsons with a sore throat, it’s certainly an interesting ride. If your brain is already fried from listening to the psych-garage Nuggets compilations, it’s probably your thing.
As experimental as it is unfinished. Headache inducing as white noise, annoying as a hyperactive puppy with a squeaky toy and as difficult as quantum physics. Those are the compliments.
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