Complaining about this album being an obvious photocopy of its influences is a bit like cursing the sky for being blue. Reworking past inspirations into something else has always been the raison d'être of Bobby Gillespie and company, after all. But that said, there's no question that Sonic Flower Groove is one goofy headscratcher of a release, the sound of a band that didn't quite know exactly what to do yet trying to record a big-budget (of sorts) debut album and ending up with little more than a pristine but dull photocopy of Turn! Turn! Turn! While not intrinsically horrible, it's not intrinsically much of anything else either, and certainly in light of everything the band did in the following years, it's the most wistful, fragile, and ultimately boring of its releases. The Byrds worship evident in earlier songs like "Velocity Girl" was here taken to ridiculous extremes, and if Jim Beattie wasn't trying to hide his love for chiming guitars, he wasn't trying to do anything with it either. Songs like "Gentle Tuesday" and "Imperial" (which benefits from strings and a more direct vocal) are so obviously straight from the early Roger McGuinn and company model that one might as well just pretend that's what's being heard. It's also a bit of a bemusing shock to hear Gillespie trying to politely and gently sing as opposed to his later dripping of attitude in every borrowed Jagger sneer, but such are the ways. This all said, there's a weird way Sonic Flower Groove was prescient -- if the Stone Roses loved the Byrds too, they loved this phase of Primal Scream just as much, while jaunty songs like "Treasure Trip" slightly forecast bits of Brit-pop almost ten years down the line. If there's a secret highlight, "Love You," with its moody ghost-of-Jesus & Mary Chain drums underpinning the slow chime, is it.
Sonic Flower Groove Review
by Ned Raggett