2009's Eating Us showed Pennsylvania freak collective Black Moth Super Rainbow moving away from complete subterranean lo-fi weirdness with upped production values and a (relatively) clearer view of their psychedelic electro-pop. Cobra Juicy follows that album's expanded scope, dragging into the forefront the melodic dance pop gems that were always buried deep under layers of psychotic Dayglo sounds on earlier BMSR albums. Songs like "Hairspray Heart" and lead-off single "Windshield Smasher" are characterized by huge beats, demonic buzzsaw synths, and crunchy guitars, but the arrangements are relatively clean and organized, lacking the lo-fi kaleidoscopic haze of more organic albums like Dandelion Gum. Bandleader Tobacco's vocodered vocals are still a huge part of the sound, but even those are dramatically cleaner and more upfront than before. Tracks like "I Think I'm Evil" or "Gangs in the Garden" veer more toward the slinky melting-pot pop of Beck or the spacey electro-bliss of Air. "Psychotic Love Damage" puts down the electro-clash leanings for a moment, dipping into a woozy indie folk crawl, with soft and summery electronics bubbling up under swampy slide guitar. It's one of Cobra Juicy's best moments, and coincidentally, one of its most restrained. When the band pulls the enormous beats down in the mix, more of the merit of their spacey songwriting comes through, as on the demented evening stroll of "We Burn" or the alternate-reality John Hughes soundtrack synth pop of "Spraypaint." While BMSR is still plenty trippy, the cleaner arrangements and sharp lines of Cobra Juicy continue their shift toward more focused and accessible sounds. Fans of the deep-friend earth tones that made up the group's earlier works may not be completely sold on the hi-definition beats and growly synth tones of Cobra Juicy, but newcomers to the band will still have a lot to digest and enjoy in trying to sort out the catchiness from the craziness.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas