It was inevitable, really, as pop music choked on stale dadrock pie, that we’d soon turn to some evanescent psychedelic sorbets to clean the palate. First there was last year’s critical rejuvenation of [a]Mercury Rev[/a]; then the constantly inspirational [a]Flaming Lips[/a]; and, throughout, the eerily ersatz psychedelia of the many-headed Elephant 6 collective.
So welcome, then, Newcastle’s Jumbo, who sound like a mixture of all the above – both their blessing and their curse. The woozy electric sprawl of ‘HON Honey’ could be a missing track from [a]Mercury Rev[/a]’s ‘Yerself Is Steam’; billowing opener ‘Good Looking Experiment’ drips with Olivia Tremor Control‘s sense of psychotropic grandeur.
While there is an undoubted exhilaration in Jumbo‘s grin-inducing nonsense pop and its absurdist touches (brass bands, schizophrenic time signatures, shrieking blasts of tripped-out noise), there’s also an essential hollowness to the record. ‘CB Mamas’ rarely feels like more than an exercise in a given style and rarely transcends the sum of its influences. While it may be ridiculous to expect progression from as retro a genre as neo-psychedelia, there’s little here we haven’t heard before. Are Jumbo really any better, any less predictable than, say, Cast, or a dozen more of their ilk?
As steel drums rocket aimlessly around the giddy ‘Sunrise 3000’, the gut-reaction is to answer, ‘yes’. Because Jumbo, all in all, are a lot of fun. Pity they’re little more.