Thursday, 3 April 2014
I have made no bones about my immense for the fried psych squalls that inventive brothers Carney develop as Pontiak. Yet even I was surprised by the brevity of the tracks that litter Innocence, their latest album on Thrill Jockey. I'm not complaining - one of my all-time favourite tracks of last year was the title track, all two minutes and 17 seconds of it, and it came out at the tail end of the year. Every time I hear the crunch, the scree, the wails, the moans, the groove - fuck everything else, I'm out the door and gone to lose myself. The rest of the album doesn't entirely live up to such a balltearer of an opening, but with the sludgy groove of 'Lake Lustre Rush', the insistent crunch driving forth 'Ghosts', the fat 'Sabotage' bass and fuzzed out and deep Black Sabbath riffs of 'Surrounded By Diamonds' - there is just so much blasted rock here to enjoy.
There has been a bit of stick thrown at Innocence though, mainly reserved for a triptych of songs in the middle third - 'It's The Greatest', 'Noble Heads' and 'Wildfires'. I must say that having these slower tracks after the hectic opening is a bit strange - on first listen. But after a while it's like John Cusack says on High Fidelity - you have to take it down a notch, you don't want to blow your wad too early. And these tracks are great - an organ-fuelled malaise floods the first track here, before becoming an arms outstretched ode to Jason Molina at his most Neil Young/Crazy Horse; 'Noble Heads' is actually a sonorous country ballad that resonates the more it gets played. 'Wildfires' is quite sedate, and this is where I think this is my love of the band that allows me to rise above the lull. Those crashing cymbals and brotherly harmonies, though!
Pontiak - Wildfires from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.
Innocence roars out of town after this on a brace of pretty killer tracks, especially closer 'We've Got It Wrong', what I can't help but think that I've actually experience the truest example of an album that displays the band's personalities. There is a ruggedness, a playfulness, an innocence that comes from being in a close-knit group, heightened all the more by the fact that the trio are kin. And whilst the next album might see them back to their brilliantly experimental full-bore psych ways, Innocence stands as an album that shows that Pontiak can do pretty much whatever they want and turn it into gold.
This goes without saying - y'all should be picking up Innocence right this minute.