Psychedelia for the Soul
Overcoming adversity is the overt theme of The Entrance Band’s new album Face the Sun, the band’s first full-length release since 2009. While the album never quite achieves a “sunny” optimism, it does confront a slew of the band members’ addictions and problems, serving as a psychedelic salve for the soul.
The Entrance Band started as Entrance, a solo project by singer-songwriter Guy Blakeslee in Baltimore in 2006. Blakeslee then moved to Los Angeles and rounded out the band’s roster, adding Paz Lenchantin, former bassist for A Perfect Circle and the Smashing Pumpkins side project Zwan, and Derek James on drums. After releasing a few albums and touring with the likes of Cat Power, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sonic Youth, among others, the band’s members found themselves battling a series of personal issues. Face the Sun is their moment of triumph—equivocal though that moment may be.
The album begins with “Fine Flow,” a rather traditional psych-rock jam that originated in the band’s 2012 EP of the same name. Wavering, watery distorted guitars skitter frantically over easy percussion, accompanied by dissonant, squawking horns. It’s full of energy, the kind of jam worthy of any summer festival, but it also has a somewhat dark edge, exposing underlying tension. Much of Face the Sun sits on this precipice of dark and light, balancing on the brink. “Medicine,” with its slinking bass and eerie vocals, says it most clearly: “[If you] wanna be free / You have to destroy / Gonna have to tear down all the walls / We’ll laugh and we’ll sing and we’ll dance upon the ruins of it all.” Several songs refer to addiction and self-destructive tendencies, like “Temptation” and “The Crave,” where Blakeslee sings, “Crying again / What’s the matter now? / Trying to quit but I don’t know how,” above a slinky, strutting riff and heavy effects.
Perhaps the strongest moment on Face the Sun is its closing track, the instrumental “Night Cat.” Eerie effects and high vocals float over a slinking beat, light guitar, and a pulsing, dark bass. Without Blakeslee’s sometimes grating vocals, you can focus more on the artful interweaving of the guitar and bass lines, the anxious, evocative tones moving in ascending melodies. At times, it almost sounds like an Explosions in the Sky track, capturing a triumphant, moving sound before submitting again to a more ominous feeling.
The Entrance Band still have work to do, but Face the Sun is a solid album that shows the band honing and nuancing their psychedelic sounds.