Bless the Headless

The Impossible Shapes

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Bless the Headless Review

by Jason Nickey

Bless the Headless is the third proper album from Bloomington, Indiana's Impossible Shapes and their final album for Luna/Recordhead/Mr. Whiggs; the band moved on to Secretly Canadian shortly after its release. Most of the bandmembers had been playing together for many years by this time, despite their young ages, and it really shows on songs like the quirky, fast-changing opener "Play With Me," and "The Line So Flexible," a song that goes from drifting psychedelia to bluesy stomp to light pop and back in four-and-a-half minutes without losing its footing. Chris Barth's lyrics are equal parts Alan Watts and Marc Bolan: a mix between fairytale imagery, detachment, and playful reverie. His delivery, combined with the general upbeat-ness of the melodies, projects a happy mood. But on closer inspection, the lyrics often speak of sadness and loss. The aforementioned "Play with Me," for example talks about "lose[ing] it all, before [feeling] face of fall;" the Pavement-esque "Good to Lie" mentions "dying in the wood;" "Always the Way" (maybe the best single Shapes' song thus far) pleads, "needed your love for the whole way, not only part of the way;" and the title of "Final Feast Forever" might be self-explanatory, but Barth drives the point home by singing, "don't be sad when I leave you without a word." Through this sort of irony, Barth skirts hippy-drippy dramatics or psych rock clich├ęs. The real strength of the band, though, is their interplay: they sound truly excited to be making music with each other (which is why the album-ending instrumental title track is one of the best things here). Instead of growing tired and bored, the years of basement shows and informal jam sessions have forged a powerful and cohesive psychedelic pop band with few contemporary peers. Where once they might have been written off as Elephant 6 wannabes or Robert Pollard coattail riders, Bless the Headless proves the Shapes worthy of their own category.

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