THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE
The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s latest album, Aufheben, is not only one of the most beautiful albums of the year but also one of the best of the band’s incredibly prolific output. I haven’t had an album make my brain feel so warm since Caribou’s Andorra, which employed much of the same sonic palette on display here: warm, swirling melodies laid over hypnotically precise percussion, at times almost sounding like drumline, with vocals rising and falling in the mix as necessary. While many previous BJM albums explored single genres over their course, Aufheben traverses them all. Kicking things off with a Last Temptation of Christ horn drone and bird chirps, “Panic in Babylon” quickly erupts with the steady, rhythmically driving drum work that grounds most of the rest of the album, set under a repetitive Middle Eastern whirling dervish melody line. Album highlight “Viholliseni Maalla” is a gorgeous shoegazer number reminiscent of the Chills’ “Pink Frost” with its twangy, guitar and heavily-echoed Finnish vocals. Instrumental “Face Down on the Moon” is a trippy bit of Krautrock with jazz flute while “Waking Up to Hand Grenades” sounds like the BJM of Bringing it All Back Home Again with a dance punk drummer. While previous BJM albums could be occasionally inconsistent (and given the number of songs in the number of genres the band has recorded, how could it be otherwise?) Aufheben is start-to-finish note-perfect psychedelia, a distillation and progression of all that the group does best, simultaneously reminiscent of its influences while sounding undeniably like the Brian Jonestown Massacre in 2012—and all clocking in at under an hour!