For the Recently Found Innocent is the latest entry in the discography of Californian garage-rock project White Fence. The project’s creator, Tim Presley, has crafted a sound that can best be described as retro as it evokes memories of old-school psychedelic rock through its fuzzy instrumentation and harmonious vocals. For the Recently Found Innocent continues in this vein, but having listened to other White Fence albums (including his collaboration with renowned indie-rocker and kindred spirit Ty Segall, who also mixed this album) I question whether Presley is refining his sound or merely repeating it.
After a brief introductory track full of swirling sounds, Angel! Who Keeps You Under? kicks off the album with pounding percussion and quick, twanging guitars. It stands out mainly by virtue of being the first song; other songs in the first half of the album will offer only the slightest notable variations on this one. Sandra (When the Earth Dies) distinguishes itself by adding in a sweet-sounding organ section and a gentle folk rhythm, but after that the album falls into a rut and all the pleasant rough-around-the-edges hippie tunes start to blur together. The only real exception is Arrow Man, which also distinguishes itself by changing the pace and adding distinctive instrumentation, in this case distorted guitars. They’re not bad tracks at all, but it’s simply too much of a good thing – or even just an alright thing.
The Light is a fast-paced shot in the arm and definitely the best track here. Though none of the following tracks match it for sheer energy, they still manage to hold their own just fine. Afraid of What It’s Worth is another mellow jam, but somehow it seems even fresher than the earlier mellow jams. It certainly benefits from not being squashed together with three or four other similar-sounding songs, that’s for sure. Fear is another slow track and noticeably melancholy compared to the rest of the album – both of which are points that work in its favour – while Raven on White Cadillac is solid but not amazing. The album closes with Paranoid Bait, which manages the impressive feat of balancing swagger and neurosis in both music and lyrics before ending things on an appropriately fuzzed-out note.
The main problem I have with the White Fence releases that I’ve heard is that, while Tim Presley is capable of making some good neo-psychedelic jams, it never seems like he has enough good material to fully sustain an entire 40-minute album. For the Recently Found Innocent admittedly falls into this category, but it still has its worthwhile moments. For every passable track such as Actor or Goodbye Law, there’s a brilliant one such as The Light or Arrow Man. This is definitely worth checking out if you like distorted yet upbeat indie rock, though how much you get out of the album will depend on whether or not you can tolerate the repetitive nature of the album.