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Thee Oh Sees Putrifiers II Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Filled with scattershot blasts of 60s pop and garage rock.

Charles Ubaghs 2012

Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer is one of those musical journeymen who, like Mark E. Smith or, to a lesser extent, Jack White, occasionally pops up into the wider musical consciousness. Once there they refuse to budge, rolling out new album after new album, often under the guise of new band names and/or with a constantly rotating cast of support players.

In Dwyer’s case, he first splashed down with noise duo Pink & Brown in the late 90s, before shifting to the garage-rattling Coachwhips and then the similarly minded Thee Oh Sees: a home recording project that has materialised into a fully fledged band. And if you’re questioning Dwyer’s work ethic, then the 13 LPs, eight EPs and 10 7” records listed in the band’s Wikipedia entry should quell any concerns over his will to record.

Picking up where 2011’s Castlemania left off, Putrifiers II is filled with scattershot blasts of the 60s pop and garage rock that defined the brash brilliance of 2009’s Help. Hang a Picture’s fuzz bass and high-pitched vocals are dripping with infectious melodies, and it avoids the trap of pastiche. Flood’s New Light firmly straddles a line between The Creation and every denim-clad Nuggets-inspired rocker to come in their wake. Elsewhere, Will We be Scared?’s sneering yet slowed-down tempo offers enough quirkiness to mark Thee Oh Sees as a garage band with a difference.

Beside Putrifiers II’s guitar-fuelled thrills are a number of moments that find Thee Oh See’s catching their winklepinkers on the pavement as they attempt to side step into more experimental, psychedelic territory. The chugging guitars of Wax Face provide a condensed dose of Hawkwind-style space rock, but So Nice’s droning strings are little more than poorly draped tinsel around the base of a plastic tree labelled ‘Velvet Underground’.

This is no glorious success then – let alone the synapses-twisting avant-rock piece you get the sneaking suspicion they’d like to make. But Putrifiers II’s peaks should provide Dwyer and company the time and space needed to move on to their next effort. Which, knowing their productivity, should be with us any day now.

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