Alice by Meatbodies

Release date: February 10, 2017
Label: In the Red records

The Californian garage/pysch fuzz merchants Meatbodies spearheaded by Chad Ubovich –  member of the appropriately titled Fuzz alongside Ty Segall – return with their second album proper and so continues their output through In the Red records. Previously, 2014’s debut self-titled album merged melodic fuzzy guitar outpourings with a Ramones spirited tempo to produce a youthful, zestful, infectious sounding twelve tracked, 40 minutes’ ish long romp.

This time around the notable difference is the absence of the legendary New York punks pulverising heartbeat. Replacing the sparky tenacity is a firmer focus on 1970’s melodic glam styled rock pop hooks as on  Marc Bolan’s  T-Rex painted ‘Creature feature’, early 70’s Bowie on ‘Kings’, while the title track mixes in a latter-day Beatles flavour, therefore enhancing the Ty Segall connections.

There are occasional leanings to darker Black Sabbath infected guitar tones as evident on ‘Count your fears’. And by using the contrasting quiet and distinctive upgrade of loud on the heaviest track ‘Disciples’ to such good effect, results in this being quite possibly the standout track. But their fuzzy heart and soul sound is a constant throughout. Notwithstanding, their melodic centre captured on each track enables the songs to eventually worm their way through.

A concept album based around ‘Alice’ who, stated in the press release, is ‘‘no religion, but may be seen as one,” so explores “a near fable of fear, sexuality, war, religion, technology, peace, philosophy, hedonism, sociology, evolution, and ecclesiasticism.” Phew! Heavy! But the overall concept and themes are tricky to pinpoint, especially without a lyrics sheet. So, the weightiness of its thematic ambitions never burdens the bright and colourful melodic hooks, sung by Chad whose warbling vocal tones are sometimes reminiscent of the Alternative Tentacles label based Alice Donut’s Tomas Antona, especially on the whooshing fuzzy solid rock of ‘Haunted history.’

If approaching this album charmed by their Ramones indebted fully charged debut, then ‘Alice’ may take time and patience to adjust to this change of direction, which sounds closer akin to their circuit of musical friends and colleagues than before. Also, the timing may be unfortunate as Ty Segall’s new album is released a week before (See Echoes very own Martyn Coppack’s comprehensive review), as it potentially could overshadow this release. But despite this, the Meatbodies second album still has some glam, garage rock/psych nuggets lying within and can stand alone or as a decent companion piece to their pioneering you know who associate.

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