‘Indigo Meadow’ is the most fully realised album The Black Angels have released to date. It’s equal parts Black Sabbath, Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Mountain and Big Black, with some black comedy and occult thrown in for good measure. The Black Angels, already a formidable force in modern psych music have upgraded themselves to undulating cult gods with this album. I don’t think I’ve ver used those words to describe a band before, so it’s a pretty bestowed term, and one that I think they fully deserve.
On ‘Indigo Meadow’, The Black Angels are fully in their own skin, making the album that ‘Phosphene Dream’ should have been. Not saying ‘Phosphene’ wasn’t incredible, it was; just saying that it had the potential to be better. Now, The Black Angels fully execute a range of dilated, tantalising, and creeping melodies, layered with fuzz, and reverb, and drenched in singer Alex Mass’ taunting, child-like voice. It’s like something out of the greatest horror movie ever made, like Friday the 13th Part XXIII: Jason Goes to Bandcamp. ‘Indigo Meadow’s’ constant droning guitars, deceptively snarled vocals, and drooling bass makes it a gorgeous combination of combusted and uniquely muddy mind-fuckery.
In terms of how it differentiates from past Black Angels albums, and how it progresses the pysch genre further, is that this album leans a little heavier on the garage part of the garage-pysch label. Whilst it’s always been an integral part of their sound, the band seem to have said fuck it, dropped the majority of their 13th Floor Elevators-inspired extended jams, and just re-defined the musical term pulsating. Every song stampedes through. Whereas previous sections would have been slowed down, the band goes against instinct, and rushes through, stomping like an elephant, and to great effect. This is shown on the shorter songs on the album, like title track ‘Indigo Meadow’ a brazen gurgler, and the swinging ‘The Day’ with shades of 60’s guitar fading grinding against the thumping washing machine of ‘Love Me Forever’. The band are having more fun as well, embracing their dark side but letting little spurts of cheek through. ‘Don’t Play With Guns’s chorus feels like it’s being sung by a group of kindergarteners chanting along to ‘Ring Around the Rosy’. And just like the subtext of that particular song, ‘Don’t Play With Guns’ has a menacing undertone. Luckily the wacked out reverb and slick tone makes it just a desirable song to shake your head to as an nursery rhyme. Likewise, in ‘Evil Things‘, ‘…that was done, when we were both people, doing people things, like collecting dreams…that was done when we were both blind, making what was mine,, killing all the time.’ Everything about the song, from the prowling bass, plucked verse line and droning chorus, belittling, wide eyed sneer, it’s all enveloped in an unsettlingly innocent texture that is anything but, however compels the listener to wallow deeper into the Black Angels madness.
Lastly, it’s the parts of The Black Angels that have always drawn their fans in that are just fucking nailed in ‘Indigo Meadow’. The warbling, gargantuan lines of wiggling sonic sounds produced from their guitars, fed through layer after layer of sound, the heavy, satanic bass screaming hollowly in the background, the clashes of melodrama punctuating every line (see ‘Always Maybe’), nothing sounds boring. And how could I forgot the organ?! The organ is haunting but driving, and a fundamental of a Black Angels atmosphere. It’s just straight up over-the-top rock n roll played in the most macabre way possible. Try listening to ‘Broken Soldier’ and not letting goosebumps form. You’ll feel like Shag and Scoob (ZOINKS!) within the first 30 seconds. ‘I Hear Colours’ is going to make you want to throw up whatever you ate most recently in cautious fear, and that’s only from hearing the lyrics and that ghostly, marching organ. ‘I can hear them everywhere, screaming by, glowing bright’ is delivered with such potent horror and macabre conclusion, it can only be described as impressive. Same goes for the entire album. My mortician’s hat goes off to these gods of horrifying and trancing psychedelica.
The Black Angels are playing the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Saturday 15 July. See that shit.