Sic Alps

Sic Alps

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On their self-titled fourth album, Sic Alps get their act together more than one ever would have expected based on their earliest recordings. Not only is Sic Alps the band's some of the band's most cleanly recorded music, it also boasts some of their tightest songwriting yet, borrowing different strains of psychedelia from Liverpool, Austin, and their hometown of San Francisco. "Glyphs" opens the album with an homage to Beatles-style psych-pop that manages to be very "I Am the Walrus" while still rough enough around the edges to be entirely Sic Alps (plus, it's good to hear someone attempt this acerbic kind of psychedelia, which seems to have been overshadowed by full-on acid freakouts and wispy castles in the sky by the legions of psych revivalists). Later, the band samples strummy pop on "Moviehead" and a gritty groove on "God Bless Her, I Miss Her" that seems equally in debt to Austinites Roky Erickson and the Strange Boys. The band's newfound polish also shines on the pretty chamber-pop ballads "Rock Races" and "See You On the Slopes," both of which have a sophistication Sic Alps couldn't have managed previously. Yet there are still plenty of moments on Sic Alps when the group is just as rambling as they were in days of old, whether it's "Polka Vat"'s sunny acid ramblings, the sleepy anthem "Wake Up, It's Over, Pt. 2" or "Thylacine Man," a Skip Spence-like acoustic ballad that hangs in the air, shimmers, and then drifts off like a wisp of smoke. While Sic Alps does an impressive job of capturing that tiny golden age of psych-rock between 1967 and 1968, it doesn't sound slavishly retro, and its shambling appeal is also akin to Drag City labelmates, like any of Neil Hagerty's post-Royal Trux incarnations. Sic Alps isn't quite as flowing as its predecessor Napa Asylum, but it still does a fine job of balancing the band's increasing prowess and the sprawling, noisy mischief for which they've always been known.

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