White Fence

Family Perfume, Vol. 1

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Hard to believe but on Family Perfume, Vol. 1, White Fence take a step backward in the recording quality department. Their first couple records gave the impression that White Fence main man Tim Presley was using papier-mâché microphones and recording onto Scotch tape; here it's like he lost those high-tech tools and was reduced to recording at a fast-food drive-in window. Luckily, the weird mixture of garage nuggets, psych-pop ramblings, folk-rock musings, and C-86 twee chirpings that Presley perfected on the first two White Fence records isn't ill-suited by the precipitous drop in sound. Instead, it now feels even more like the tapes were happily rescued from beneath a moldy mattress in a bombed-out crash pad and cleaned up just enough to be audible. No amount of crud or tape dropouts could dampen Presley's super-catchy hooks, the skillfully amateurish clatter of the music, or the pleasantly stoned undercurrent (overcurrent?) that runs through the grooves from start to finish. This time out there are a few more folky tracks ("Hope! Servatude I Have No!," "Balance Yr Heart"), a couple long, trippy jams ("Daily Pique," "It Will Never Be"), and a rip-roaring punk track to go along with the songs that sound ripped from the Television Personalities songbook ("Hey! Roman Nose," "Take Away Lifes Endless Take") or borrowed from a Rubble comp ("Do You Know Ida Know?"). Presley has such a mastery of what he's trying to do that it's easy to imagine him cranking out albums this good and weird in his sleep. That he puts plenty of effort (sonically and melodically) into Family Perfume, Vol. 1 is commendable and helps make the album a worthy addition to White Fence's excellently warped catalog.

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