The Sufis

Inventions

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The Sufis hail from Nashville, but they have no country in their sound at all. Instead, they sound like they've been lifted straight from Carnaby Street circa 1965, or like they were the house band on Shindig, or maybe recorded for Voxx in 1985. Basically, they are garage psych revivalists through and through, right down to the 12-string guitars, trippy backing vocals, and songs about weird characters, breakups with groovy chicks, and wallflowers. Ground that has been covered many, many times before -- sometimes brilliantly, sometimes poorly -- unlike many bands that have all the right clothes and gear but no soul, but on their second album, Inventions, the Sufis make the gravedigging sound feel brand-new. Adding together the ultra-hooky songwriting, the always perfect arrangements that are built around standard rock band ingredients but spiced up with all sorts of cool stuff like sitars, bells, and harpsichords, and the duo's encyclopedic knowledge of the era, you get something that's always fun and lively. Whether dipping into some melancholy folk-rock ("Alone"), getting deep into some mid-period Beatles sounds ("The End"), laying down some baroque beauties ("Gotta Get Away," "I'll Come to See You"), giving the go-go girls something to frug to ("No Expression"), or jangling sugar sweetly ("She Said to Me"), the Sufis don't make a wrong move. They even manage to pull off the kind of song that tripped up many of the original psych pop groups of the '60s, namely the whimsical tune about a local oddball. In this case, the group tells the tale of the "Most Peculiar Happening Cat" around -- a record-collecting, show-promoting man about town -- and does it with a jaunty, highly melodic flair that makes it work. They make everything work, really, and Inventions ends up being one of the better garage psych revival records anyone's likely to hear in 2013. It stacks up well against the class of 1984 too, and as heretical as it may seem, might even give some of the original albums a run for their paisley frocks.

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