Make love, then sleep
In latest album Under the Spell of Joy, Death Valley Girls prove the existence of time travel. Comprised of frontwoman Bonnie Bloomgarden, bassist Pickle, drummer Rikki Styxx and guitarist Larry Schemel, this psych rock quartet is back with more energy than ever. Under the Spell of Joy is a gleefully passionate, deeply unapologetic ode to the psychedelic excesses of the 1960s and ‘70s. Prepare to be transported to a simpler time, one with flower crowns, open-air festivals and crowd surfers galore.
Openers “Hypnagogia” and “Hold My Hand” serve as Under the Spell of Joy’s two-part mission statement. While “Hold My Hand” is a classic youthful, upbeat summer soundtrack that deftly balances rock, pop and psychedelic influences, “Hypnagogia” is a slow-building experimental mind-bender. Via nebulous instrumentation, overlapping harmonies and a gradual crescendo culminating in an explosive final chorus, listeners will vicariously experience dancing around a campfire on illicit psychotropic substances. The song is exceptionally well-named–hypnagogia denotes the state between wakefulness and sleep in which people often experience lucid dreaming, hallucinations and sleep paralysis.
Throughout Under the Spell of Joy, Death Valley Girls implore listeners to live their best lives. “Bliss Out” is a charmingly carefree singalong that preaches the importance of living in the moment while touching on the transience of human life: “Be here right now/ ‘Cause we’re all gonna die/ This is heaven now and all the time.” Similarly, “Little Things” urges listeners to slow down, take it easy and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Festival foot-tappers “10 Day Miracle Challenge” and “It All Washes Away” are high-octane adrenaline injections that will brighten cloudy and cloudless days alike.
With “The Universe,” Death Valley Girls get trippy. Touching esoterically on the natures of free will, dreams, love and human relationships, “The Universe” is the perfect soundtrack for states of bonafide hypnagogia (as is the song of the same name, naturally). Meanwhile, title track “Under the Spell of Joy” confidently builds upon itself, eventually transitioning from happy-go-lucky hippy vibes into a climactic, resounding guitar outro.
All in all, Under the Spell of Joy is a lighthearted, enthusiastic time capsule to a simpler time that’s more than worth the listen. Featuring a plethora of high-energy retro rock songs and more experimental, psychedelic tracks alike, Death Valley Girls’ latest album is an authentic pick-me-up capable of curing even the most obstinate cases of quarantine blues.