[sic] Magazine

Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits

Be John Dwyer at the helm of the Orinoka Crash Suite, The OCS, The Oh Sees (or the more emphatic and elongated incarnation of the same band he mans today), A Weird Exits is his fifteenth studio album since 2003 under the name and, given that deeply impressive level of dedication, you do have to wonder if he’s now irretrievably trapped himself in some sort of riff-based arms race. Whether it’s himself he sees as his own adversary, forever trying to outdo himself, is up for discussion, but no matter if he’s peddling demented psych, killer garage, urgent fuzz, stoner kraut, punk Nuggets or Velvet Underground-style drones and noise, Dwyer’s success has never been defined by variety, neither by quantity but by quality.

More or less every track he writes is great and live his bloodshot grooves remain pure adrenaline. A Weird Exits is the first studio recording to capture dual drummers Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon alongside bassist Tim Hellman and it promises to bottle that electric stage show on record. That, and Dwyer’s ongoing conscious effort to move away from the legacy of Brigid Dawson’s keys and synths and back into the domain of guitars, translates into a trademark side A (and half of B as the vinyl edition of the album is presented on double 45 rpm LP, the side D of which contains an etching by album artworker Robert Beatty). When the dust settles from this run of punchy pogo rock, whooping choruses and scrappy sludge, generous doses of synth nevertheless still remain. And they set the tone for an extended, if uncommon period of self-reflection.

The instrumental “Jammed Entrance” may lock in hard, pitting static interference against kraut rhythms, but chilly mosey “Crawl Out From The Fall Out” is eight more representative and low-key minutes of synth and percussion over which Dwyer dapples his vocal on its twinkling surface. Stripped of all usual Dwyer motifs bar a buzzing bass riff, “Unwrap The Fiend Pt. 2” is then another less effective wordless wonder. Stand-out album closer, “The Axis”, fits neither bracket however – a literal weird exit, if you will. In fact, as Dwyer cries his way through a teary rock ‘n’ roll love song from behind a drizzle of organ drone, it’s downright unrecognisable as a Thee Oh Sees song until the inevitable distorted solo to finish. It may not be what you expect from an album reputedly packaged in goat skin, but Dwyer willingness to mutate while keeping the standards high is what has always set him apart. Business as usual, then.

Best track: “Dead Man’s Gun”

~A Weird Exits is released 12th August 2016 via Castle Face.~