The Asteroid No. 4

Hail to the Clear Figurines

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Having long since carved out their own enjoyable niche of fuzzed-out psych garage groove and snarl, the Asteroid No. 4 essentially keep at it on Hail to the Clear Figurines, showing that, like their near contemporaries the Sand Pebbles, there's always something to be found in that forever-1968 intersection of impulses that hotwired the whole thing. The opening song, "Wicked Wire," has both sweet, echoed harmonies to die for and a stomping strut, taking it to the limit seems to sharply encapsulate the band's strengths as a result. The album's easygoing way around a variety of disparate yet ultimately simpatico sonic touchstones recurs throughout: the combination of country-tinged ramble and reverb and tremolo on "The Unknown"; the slow burn to full rampage of "Be Yourself by Yourself" shifting into the Sandpipers-ish strum and drift of "A Sunny Day (One Afternoon)," which itself then fires up a huge burst of drone noise partway through. What's just as fun are the extra fripperies and twists that crop up along the way. Starting off "Wild Opal Eyes" with an extended harp part making its way along (and cropping up again later in the song) is a great touch on its own, but hearing the further additions on songs like the moodily sweet chug and swing of the title track is especially sharp. Then there are just those moments that are simply wonderful straight up: the breathtaking, lovely solos halfway through "Got Nowhere to Go" feel like much of the best of 50 years' worth of psych and shoegaze wrapped up with a bow. (There's also something fun about how the brief "In the Interest of Captain Marbles" almost sounds like a prime Monochrome Set instrumental track.)

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