Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

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Album Review: Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last

2 min read

There are few bands out like there like Thee Oh Sees, and there are fewer albums out there like Mutilator Defeated At Last. Although the group’s sonic influences are clear – a mix of psych, glam and garage rock dominates the proceedings – like true artists, they take an identifiable genre to an entirely original plane. In essence, though you may have the key to open this door, you will be wholly surprised by what you find behind it.

CF-055coverThe proceedings are, from the outside, distinctly anarchic. Although album opener Web has a strong, repetitive structure, the semblance of order seems to only be present in order to set the listener up for the sonic carnage that descends upon the piece just over halfway through its running time. Sticky Hulks, the album’s longest track at almost seven minutes, takes a similar approach: though the track begins with the kind of airy and pristine melodies that could have almost been grafted on from an early Portishead album, the band play bait and switch over, and over again. Tones and textures are adopted and then dropped. Rather than this feeling like musical ADHD, however, it streamlines the track, leading it towards a place of genuine explosive wonder.

Indeed, wonder seems to be the imperative word to use when describing Mutilator. Though tracks like Turned Out Light get rough – albeit in a distinctly playful way – the tone that dominates the album is a kind of wide-eyed excitement. Everything is interesting, everything is worth exploring, from the acoustic work on Holy Smoke to the bassy rumbles of Poor Queen. Thee Oh Sees prove themselves to be a band that finds everything worthy of a go, from the gentle to the giant, from the lusty to the beatific.

The band are tighter than they have ever been before, and manage to find places to show off their technical mastery without ever seeming as though they are trying to shoehorn in unnecessary or distracting solos.  From the drum work that begins Rogue Planet; to the sticky riffs that take Lupine Ossuary to another level, every instrumental choice rings true.

Delightful might seem like an odd compliment to tack on to a record as demented and unhinged as Mutilator, but that seems like the only way to tag such a diverse string of songs. After all, the expression on your face by the time the album is done with its deranged dance will be a crooked, ear to ear smile. I promise you.