Psychic Ills - Hazed Dream LP
Includes mp3 download of album.
Sacred Bones Records
Psychic Ills' Sacred Bones debut Hazed Dream doesn’t lie about its intentions: the whole album rolls along like a fogged-out vision, albeit a very different one from anything the band has crafted before. Instead of the sonic maelstroms of Dins and the particularly brilliant Mirror Eye, Hazed Dream is a low-hanging fog, misty and down to earth at the same time. Tres Warren, Elizabeth Hart and crew strip their songs down to the bare essentials, adding more structure and even hooks, transforming their music into narcotic dream rock that resembles a sleepwalking Spiritualized. Warren's vocals rarely rise above a murmur and the guitars are smoky, not searing, but Psychic Ills still find ways to get deeply trippy even if it doesn’t sound like this music was made during astral projection. “Midnight Moon” begins the album with a thrumming jew’s harp that suggests stepping stones to the infinite, setting the tone for the rest of the album’s lightly sketched psychedelia. Considering how transporting Mirror Eye's improvisations were, it’s something of a surprise that Hazed Dream's standouts feature actual verses and choruses. “Mind Daze” makes the most of the album’s psych-pop leanings, while “Incense Head” rides a guitar melody that coils like smoke wafting from a scented cone, and “Mexican Wedding” rambles to a riff that borrows from “Frère Jacques.” At times, the album’s drift threatens to become monotonous, and some of the melodies sound a little too similar to each other. Indeed, the whole thing is so lulling that some intriguing details, such as the guiro and hand drums on “Travelin’ Man,” and Hart’s downright sexy bassline on the excellent “Sungaze” might just slip past listeners. No doubt Hazed Dream's linear trip is intentional -- how could it not be with song titles like “Dream Repetition”? -- but on first listen, it’s not quite as gripping as Psychic Ills' previous work. Hazed Dream is the band’s subtlest album as well as its most accessible, and its low-key pleasures reveal themselves over time.