After 35 years of making records under the Bevis Frond banner, 2021's Little Eden is rousing proof that the group's main man Nick Saloman hasn't lost a step. He's gotten older, sure. Maybe a little more bitter, granted. But over the course of 20 songs, he delivers a set of mostly blistering guitar workouts that show him as the missing link between Jimi Hendrix and J. Mascis, but one who's able to toss off an overdriven folk-rocker as hooky as anything this side of the Byrds. The album is divided into the aforementioned melodic rockers like "Cherry Garden" and "They Will Return," where the jangle and fuzz meet like opposing storm fronts and Saloman croaks out bittersweet lyrics that revolve around heartbreak, getting older, and other fun stuff like that. Mixed in are romping blues-rockers ("Brain Fatigue"); semi-acoustic ballads that are played and sung with a rare fragility ("As I Lay Down to Die" being the highlight); moody garage punk rippers that sound like lost Wipers songs ("Here Come the Flies"); and a few surprises like the midtempo Teenage Fanclub-lite harmony pop of "Hold Your Horses." There are a few tunes that cement a spot on the Bevis Frond greatest-hits collection, too, like the lively grunge rocker "Everyone Rise" and the keening power pop nugget "My Own Hollywood," which is a reminder of how good the harmony vocals always are on a Frond album. Throughout it all, Saloman doles out all manner of guitar heroics that culminate in the ten-minute psych-rock blowout "Dreams of Flying," which features five breathtaking minutes of dueling guitar leads. The Bevis Frond isn't just a band anymore, they are almost a genre of their own making now, and if Nick Saloman keeps cranking out albums as inspired, alive, and joyously gnarly as this, the next few decades should bring many more delights.
The Bevis Frond
(LP - Fire Records #FIRELP 630)