The Smoking Trees

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TST Review

by Tim Sendra

To put it as simply as possible, TST, the second album by L.A. duo the Smoking Trees, will satisfy anyone looking for laid-back, relaxed psych-pop. It will also make fans of the softer side of '60s sunshine and baroque pop -- think the Association or the Merry-Go-Round -- very happy. It will soothe the soul of anyone burned and broken by the hectic pace of modern life and the jarring music it so often produces. It should end up in the record collections of people who dig Temples, or Tame Impala, or MGMT. Basically, the duo (Sir Psych and LA AL) disappeared into their studio, dove deep into inner space, and came back out with a brilliant, sparkling gem of an album. Full of shimmering keyboards, mind-warping effects, jangling sitars, lightly strummed guitars, and hazy vocals, the record creates a mood that can only be described as enveloping. Most of the tracks clock in with the needle buried firmly in the midtempo zone, aimed right for the sweet spot between chilled-out and zonked. Only the occasional track busts gently out of that zone, like the sprightly "It's Only Natural." That song, or the handful like the sweet "Best Friend" and the lilting "Awake in Your Dreams," doesn't break the mood, and the feeling of gentle nostalgic warmth and calm never lifts. Listening to the record is like being wrapped up in a long, loving hug by two guys who know their psych-pop history and how to make it work for them in the best possible way. They combine a mastery of creating a psychedelic world of their own with some surprisingly strong songwriting here that most of their contemporaries, like Jacco Gardner to pick one, only wish they could. TST might not rank with the great psychedelic albums of all time, or it might. While listening to it, you won't really care about that, or much of anything at all. There's no higher compliment than that for an album as transporting as this.

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