The Hobbit 2: An Unexpected Journey with
Thee Oh Sees
To hear Putrifiers II is to watch psych-rock band Thee Oh Sees scale a mountain of garage greatness. After several records of wacked-out garage noise that only makes sense through acid-glasses, the San Fransisco outfit gave its sound a pop transfusion. As the band leaves its base camp of weirdness, TOS plans its climb to mature accessibility. But they take their psychedelics with them. During the ascent, they stumble, they tumble, and they fill two minutes with distorted din. Despite setbacks, the garage darlings finally reach the zenith by marrying production sensibility with crashing percussion, strange melodies, and fuzzy hooks that burrow into the brain. After all, it’s not the destination—it’s the journey that counts, right?
Just like any other adventure, Putrifiers II starts strong. “Wax Face,” with its groovetastic bassline and chilled vocals, deserves to open every show TOS put on for the next year. John Dwyer shouts, ooohs, and echoes his way into the upper atmosphere of every track, settling above layers of fuzzy reverb and rocking guitar licks. In the first three songs, this album has listeners join the band on an escapade, dancing and swaying all the way.
“Cloud #1” and, unfortunately, the title track, find the band muddled in useless clamor. The former track spans the breadth of, at most, five notes. It doesn’t elevate the record, provide intrigue, or show off any sort of talent. TOS have nothing to prove when it comes to weirdness. So why, why why? Additionally, “Putrifiers II,” though not wholly mind-numbing, racks up a whopping six minutes, which is about four too many for a song with repetitive rhythm and indiscernible lyrics.
But wait! They escape the quicksand and victoriously emerge onto a sun-bleached, drug-drenched cliff. “Lupine Dominus” sounds like the California-born lovechild of keyboardist Brigid Dawson and the year 1968. Drummer Mike Shoun also deserves praise for this particular track—it’s an “I’ve got blisters on my fingers” sort of percussion jam. Thee Oh Sees triumph together, successfully merging their pop and psych sensibilities to achieve a cool, rollicking sound on Putrifiers II.