The opening sounds of Post Animal’s debut album might fool you. ‘Everywhere All At Once’ is lush and serene; a golden tapestry of fingerpicked guitars and rippling keys that builds softly, steadily. It sounds exactly like the kind of thing you’d record at a lake house, as the Chicago six-piece did, but it’s also a rare calm moment on the album that came from those sessions.
As a whole, ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’ is very much the opposite of calm. It’s a record that thrives on exploring as much territory and as many ideas as possible – often in the same song. Take ‘Gelatin Mode’, which begins with Wes Toledo’s pounding, heartbeat drums, and Javi Reyes and Matt Williams’ frantically weaving guitar lines. It shifts briefly into something more placid, but later morphs again into sludgy Sabbath-sized riffs. Similarly, ‘Heart Made Of Metal’ veers from bright psych-tinged power-pop to a doom-y end that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wand record. In lesser hands, these twists and turns would be a mess, but Post Animal use them to form a glorious trip.
It’s not all big riffs and weird zigzags – there’s some pop gold here too. On ‘Ralphie’, guitarist Joe Keery (yes, you do recognise his name from a certain TV show) and bassist Dalton Allison trade equally perfect, lovelorn vocals (“Cos I went to the party and I left my pretty baby with Ralphie/Baby and now I’m alone“) over shiny, infectious melodies its hard to dislodge from your brain. ‘Special Moment’ rides on Dalton’s strutting bassline as he sings about the thrill of the uncertainty of the future (“And it’s just the thought that maybe understanding so vaguely is the way it should be“). Even ‘Tire Eyes’, ushered in by Jake Hirshland’s dramatic keys, packs a hook or two.
Through it all, ‘…Castle’ is not just cohesive – it feels like it’s been made to be consumed as one whole body of work. Each song segues into the next, giving barely a second to pause or hit shuffle. But why would you want to do that with such a rewarding album that reveals new sounds and surprises with each listen? “I deserve a fucking gold medal,” Post Animal sing on ‘Victory Lap: Danger Zone’. They deserve several for this gem.