Wooden Shjips: Back To Land (Thrilljockey )
Space/psych rock masters, Wooden Shjips, return with their fourth full length player. How does it rank against the bands previous albums? Dom Walsh investigates.
Space/psych rock masters, Wooden Shjips, return with their fourth full length player. Back To Land is the follow up to 2011’s magnificent West. Like its predecessor, much of the same landscapes are at work again here. Recalling the spirits of The Doors, Velvet Underground and Soft Machine, Back To Land is an album that could go one of two ways.
A typically open, fuzzed up summer riff opens up Wooden Shjips latest opus. The title track uses overdrive on the guitar that helps create that mood of the hood down and the San Franciscan breeze blowing through your hair. A chirpy solo helps keep the track interesting, and vocals are completely laid back. Next track, Ruin, opens up with the same tempo and an hypnotic drum beat that does not change for the duration of the track. A chiming guitar solo is again used to break up the sonic sound that is built around the drums. As the track fades out, the solo is still being played and it would have been nice to have heard a little more of the solo and a little more self indulgence.
The album moves through at quite a pace and many of the tracks seem very similar in their formula. Ghouls has a more vibrant guitar solo that ramps up the intensity somewhat. This intensity hits at the right time in the album as the rhythm is again repetitive, but it doesn’t get boring. These Shadows open with a solitary riff, but employs acoustic guitars to again add a different dimension to the same formula. Again, the guitars and the minimalist vocals pirouette around in the mix. In The Roses has a more rock’n’roll throw down feel with a faster tempo. The Hammond organ manages to help resurrect the sound of a psychedelic sixties sojourn up Haight Ashbury. As the album closes up with more tracks in the same vein, it’s time to head back to land after being lulled away on a trip into the more floaty areas of your mind.
Back To Land could be seen one of two ways. It either sounds extremely samey throughout thus therefore a little dull, or it is a glorious summer record that can help you dream of a sun kissed land far far away as the cold nights get colder. I prefer the latter. Any record that can take you somewhere else in your mind is worth listening to. I’m not sure it reaches the same heights as West, but it is a more than worthy sequel.