Why rock’n’roll is better than politics, part 94: when politicians go back on their pledges, it leaves the country teetering on the brink of ungovernable chaos. When musicians (specifically, Thee Oh Sees’ frontman John Dwyer) go back on their pledges (specifically, to put the band on the proverbial ‘extended hiatus’), it leads to three studio albums in just over two years. ‘A Weird Exits’, the San Franciscan mob’s latest, is another idiosyncratic serving of synthed-up garage rawk that suggests a brisk workrate needn’t lead to a lack of quality control.
Dwyer – who started Thee Oh Sees in the early ’00s as a solo project – has engineered an umpteenth line-up change, with not one but two drummers, Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, entering the fray. This results in much of ‘A Weird Exits’ feeling looser and groovier than recent albums like ‘Mutilator Defeated At Last’ and ‘Drop’. Indeed, it’s the punchy drums of ‘Plastic Plant’ that maintain its momentum when the spacey synth action threatens to overwhelm its thrilling Jimi Hendrix-with-added-psychedelia essence. ‘Jammed Entrance’, one of two instrumentals on the album, showcases Thee Oh Sees’ electronic leanings like rarely before – urgent alien bleeps that seem to nod to British synth pioneer and Doctor Who theme creator Delia Derbyshire – but is rendered funky by the fellas behind the kits.
Ultimately, though, ‘A Weird Exits’ feels like a veneration of Dwyer the guitarist. He seems to be cranking out killer riffs for fun: superfuzzed hard rock grandstanding that breaks up the chugging retro-psych of ‘Dead Man’s Gun’; crashing and blown-out on the splendidly titled ‘Ticklish Warrior’; wild-eyed and wiry for the album’s punk zenith ‘Gelatinous Cube’. Even at his most beardy and laidback – closer ‘The Axis’, a ’70s-soaked, Neil Young-ish thing powered by whirring organ – a spate of crunchy, decaying amp noise is round the corner.
There’s a vast array of Oh Sees albums out there; you probably don’t own them all, or need to, and Dwyer and co’s boisterous punk-meets-psych formula is repeated here with only moderate tweaks. Equally, ‘A Weird Exits’ should prove a solid fan-satisfier or entry point for newbies.