Side A / CD
It’s good to have a band like Motorpsycho around. Hakon Gebhardt, Hans Magnus Ryan, Bent Saether: these three musicians may form the only band of lasting relevance to have originated from Europe’s early 90’s alternative/underground scene. At the very least, Motorpsycho is the only band to grow from strength to strength since that time. Never afraid to experiment, to play with new influences or to expand the limits of their capabilities, they worked patiently and consistently at perfecting their fine art. In retrospect, what the band meant to achieve was obscured very deftly inside a maze of confusing stylistic detours explored on innumerable releases, which I am not even going to attempt to describe here. That’s up to the true Psychonauts.
For me, the first time I started to have a clue of what Motorpsycho was all about, was when I discovered 1998’s psychedelic rollercoaster Trust Us, in particular the tracks Hey Jane and Vortex Surfer. In retrospect (and it’s always easier when looking back) I like to think that the one song, Vortex Surfer, represents the very best of what Motorpsycho had done up to that moment, combined in one epic monster of a song, while the other is a hint of things to come. Hey Jane is, to me, the first song in which all the band’s strengths fall into place: an unbridled drive and energy, a talent for writing beautiful and moving melodies and an incredible ear for harmonious an rhythmic arrangements, all brought together for their first Perfect Pop Song.
Since those two songs, the wondrous world of Motorpsycho makes a lot more sense to me. The albums Let Em Eat Cake and Barracuda, the Roadworks-series, all the EP’s and what-nots inbetween and, of course, last year’s pièce-de-résistance Phanerothyme; all this music seems to be marked by a new-found focus, an awareness and self-confidence grounded in true skill and talent. Smear me with oil and feathers and trundle me out of town for putting it this simply, but: Motorpsycho has turned out to be the best 70’s band never to have come from the 70’s. If you take all their psychedelic, pop, jazz, rock and avant garde influences and put them in their original context, you’ll find their place in the early years of that infamous decade.
It’s A Love Cult is, therefore, not such a surprising title for a new album, and here it is! Allow me to declare upfront: the Trondheim Three are still on a roll. Backed by keyboard-player extraordinaire Baard Slagvold, the unofficial fourth band-member since Let Em Eat Cake, they provide us with a new kaleidoscopic set of songs, lending each tune the warm and enchanting sound they fully discovered on last year’s Phanerothyme. Revel in the devil-may-care drive of pop-tracks like opener Überwagner Or A Billion Bubbles In My Mind, Neverland, What If… and Composite Head. Relax to the jazzy and laid-back This Otherness, or the intimate and delicate little tune Circles. Carousel is an ideal mid-album track, with its mellow and gentle first minutes, finally transforming into a psychedelic monster halfway. The Mirror & The Lie is a miracle of intricate little sounds and melodies winding in and out of each other, never cluttering together, the one never obscuring the other. Custer’s Last Stand provides the pomp and heavy rock reminiscent of Barracuda, all stomping bass-line and stocky drumming. The highpoint of It’s A Love Cult is probably Serpentine, with its insistent beat and grinding breaks, the tension building and building, then suddenly dropping away. The piano carries on delicately while the storm mounts in the background, until the song rushes back into the original groove in one of those magic moments of ecstasy that Motorpsycho-fans know all too well.
So, if you really fell in love with this band after Let Em Eat Cake, you won’t be disappointed with It’s A Love Cult. In fact, your affection will deepen after hearing this album. This new release constitutes yet another indication and consolidation of Motorpsycho’s unique status as true class act: they will always, repeat: ALWAYS, deliver the goods. And if you weren’t wondering this already, you should be asking yourself, as the last notes of the closing track Composite Head fade out: where in heaven’s name are they going to end up?