The Black Angels

Indigo Meadow

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The opening tom hits and fuzzbox riffs that start Indigo Meadow give the indication that this is yet another turn on the Black Angels' merry-go-round of stoner rock and neo-psychedelia. However, the third song, "Don't Play with Guns," takes a decided turn with its big pop single hook, and the follow-ups "Holland" and "The Day" follow suit, as songs that are more carefully structured than the usual two-chord repetition that we've grown to expect. Not that there's anything wrong with the sound of bands like Spacemen 3 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but after several albums based on repetition, this is a pleasant, unexpected change for the Austinites. Part of the inspiration for change is probably due to the paring down of the band into a four-piece. Song changes are easier when there are less cooks in the kitchen, and Bland, Maas, and Hunt take more chances in their songwriting, alternating who plays bass, guitar, or organ, and even spreading out their duties to include odd instruments like flutes, bass Moog, harmonium, Manetron, and a tibetan singing bowl. These bright touches give the album more of a thickly produced '60s feel than prior albums. Producer John Congleton adds just the right amount of engineering tricks like reverse tape delay to make songs like "I Hear Colors" and "Twisted Light" true to the Nuggets era. Meanwhile, as always, Stephanie Bailey holds down the show with her rock-steady but exciting style of drumming. The Angels are masters at sounding simultaneously cool as a block of ice and hot as hellfire, but the cunning pop melodies are the real key to this album's success.

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