Psychedelic storytelling with a purpose
Not all bands try to tell a story with their music, but those that do are taking an extreme risk. No not a musical, but a journey through the sounds of other’s creativity. As a listener, people want to resonate with a song, and this resonance within music is only a small part of the niche that The Warlocks have been carving for themselves since 1998. Los Angeles bred group, The Warlocks, tells the story of a fictional runaway couple throughout their album The Chain. Known as Rocky and Diamond, their journey is heard through a psychedelic soundwave of smooth guitar riffs and hollowed vocals.
Guitarist and singer Bobby Hecksher describes his album as, “creamy, dreamy, glass breaking-style storytelling,” according to the band’s website. The Chain has track titles that follow a script. Masked with distorted guitar, each note is part of this elegant screenplay.
With an almost envious start to the album, the first track, “Dear Son,” is the turn to darker times for ol’ Rocky and Diamond as they aren’t able to escape society. The song is a hypnotic introduction to a larger story. To follow is “The Robbery,” an escalating instrumental with minuscule beat changes to finish with a synth-like distorted guitar. This track, along with “You Stooge You,” fill the album’s space with patient rhythms and gradual blast-worthy beats.
The third track, “Mr. Boogeyman,” has a more pertinent meaning, attempting to illustrate life in the justice system with acid-inducing riffs and drumbeats. Almost cinematic with each sound wave, it’s an easy transition into the following track “Double Life,” like a graceful camerawork into the next scene. The almost Bonnie and Clyde nature of this song is what the album needs, as a track to repeat over and over. “We Don’t Need Money” follows the darker journey of Rocky and Diamond. With a hint of grunge, this track’s heavily distorted guitar and feedback wash out the delay of Hecksher’s lyrics. This is the same with “Sucking out Your Soul Like A Son Of A Bitch,” but with background vocals to maintain the dire and suspenseful story of this album.
The next track, “Have Mercy on Me,” is more merciful (yes, it’s in the title). With a more acoustic and toned-out sound, this song’s roots are a striking contrast to previous tracks. To continue the final “scenes” of this journey, “Feel No Pain / You Hurt Me” is nothing if not eclectic. Acoustic guitar and plucked string instruments fade within the emotion behind this song. It flows with the rest of the album, but not within itself. If the style of this track were to appear earlier, then there wouldn’t be a gap of emotional resonance. To finish the album, “I’m Not Good Enough / Party Like We Used To” renews the entire story. It is a rooted compilation of Rocky and Diamond’s story, with more important meaning in today’s political climate. But that’s up for the listener to decide.
The Chain is unique; it’s cinema-like transitions and vivid storyline illustrate a journey that is both relevant and intriguing. Although within its core is a gaping hole, one which lacks emotion and lust that the story needs in every song. The Chain is resonance-worthy, but needs a crucial element to add the final touch needed for this ever so zealous journey.