Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

Another year, another new album from Thee Oh Sees. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I reviewed their last LP, the excellent Putrifiers II? Really, not all that  much has changed in the world since Thee Oh Sees last shared a new release. Then again, seven months in John Dwyer time is like five years for the rest of us. thee-oh-sees-floating-coffin-600-e1359414491142

Thee Oh Sees have released an astonishing seven studio albums since 2008, including their most recent, Floating Coffin (you’d think they were filling a quota or something). With a track record like that, it should be hard to stay relevant, but the veteran San Fran rockers manage to do it time and time again. In fact, they make it look easy, because each subsequent release is received just as well, if not better, than the one before it. This applies to Floating Coffin, and then some.

Opening track “I Come From the Mountain” attacks our ears much in the same way that the album’s cover art assaults our eyes (take strawberries off my grocery list, please). There’s a menacing grin behind each track on Floating Coffin, and yet, it’s clearly all in good fun. Despite its quick, aggressive beat, try not to crack a smile while jamming to “I Come From the Mountain,” while riding along that garage-y surf rock wave. Next up is “Toe Cutter- Thumb Buster,” which is nonsensically titled but demands your attention; a thoroughly shocking, sharp guitar cuts through the track like a buzz saw, dripping and oozing its fuzz all over a trippy psych background. Floating Coffin is a genre-bender, but it’s also a display of the band’s impressive prowess within their noted psych-rock niche; “Night Crawler” is a slow, warped foot-stomper,  while “No Spell” enchants with a quiet, pulsating power.

But the devil’s in the details where Floating Coffin is concerned. It’s obvious that frontman John Dwyer never runs out of ideas or influences and, no matter how bizarre or obscure they might be, we listeners always find ways to relate. This has never been more true than on closing track “Minotaur,” which features some of the greatest sounds Thee Oh Sees have ever strung together. Dark, dingy, yet undeniably razor-sharp, the song’s beat trudges along through the same murky maze as its hopeless narrator. While the black fairy-tale closes the book on Floating Coffin with a somber note, the future looks undeniably bright for Thee Oh Sees. Usually, it’s easy to declare a particular band’s new album as their “best work to date.” That’s because most bands I write about have three, four, maybe five releases under their belt. We’re twelve (or so) albums in with Thee Oh Sees, but somehow, that statement doesn’t feel any less valid.

4.5 / 5 bars

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