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Woods – At Echo Lake

There’s an adage about true perfection having to be imperfect and it’s one that Woods have been putting to good use over their previous LPs. With muffled production, scuffed guitar lines and a creaking falsetto their psych-folk hybrid has previously ranged from loose and lengthy jams to tighter stoner-psych à la Arbouretum all the way to the fluttery freak-folk of Devendra Banhart .

Still staunchly draped in tape-deck production, At Echo Lake however has noticeably less rambling psychedelia than the last album Songs Of Shame, so it’s out with 9-minute moments like “September With Pete”, at least on record. The band still reputedly wheel them out for the live show, a claim not difficult to believe as several of the janglingly playful outros on this latest offering prove.

In being more succinct, Woods seem to have struck a winning balance. Consequently, Jeremy Earl ‘s rag-tag bunch (dually true as he also owns the label) are flashed back to the 60s thanks to their new-found cleaner execution. Strong melodies permeate the relaxed collection, and, on tracks like “Death Rattles”, hazy Doors -like guitar pillars stand unaffected, bloodshot and swaying. The echo-y guitar licks of the opener “Blood Dries Darker” belong on the Bullitt soundtrack, the persistent acoustic bridges and dreamy vocal to a summer’s afternoon cookout with likeminded Ganglians .

Echo Lake is a persistent theme, one close to the heart of Woods. As the name of this album, the name of several towns and, duh, lakes in America, it has further history being the name of a rhythmic instrumental on the preceding Songs Of Shame – one that recalls the concise “From The Horn” on this. The name Echo Lake invokes an inherent sense of uneasy isolation, yet also one of chilly beauty, and on At Echo Lake, Woods capture both these essences effortlessly.

Advised downloads: “Death Rattles” and “Blood Dries Darker”.

At Echo Lake is out now on Woodsist .