Upping the motorik attack from their first record with Rocket Recorings, Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation plummet into a vortex of swirling drums and swarms of buzzing keys on Mirage. From the opening strains of “The State (I’m In),” the record breathes heavy and damp like a vaporizer filling the mind with gauzy strains of psychedelic fog. Everything is dark and creeping in The Liberation’s world, a thundering bass reverberation pounds through the mind, darting between guitar lines like so many trees in a spectral forest. Those guitars burn, when they emerge, with an intense and alarming temperature that makes their presence felt. Ohrn pushes her psych journey almost to the edge of the dance floor though, finding that fine line between trance and drone, especially on lead single “In Madrid.” Here, she works repeated phrases and circular playing into a kind of semi-conscious drug haze that folds colors over on themselves in prismatic, shimmering sheets.
The band comes on like a psychic split between the heady dance impulses of ’90s-era Primal Scream and Broadcast’s haunted pop hallucinations. Throw in an agitated My Bloody Valentine vein that pulses throughout and its hard to shift your attention from the band’s entrancing chug. It works well, much better than I could ever hope to capture through comparison, and Mirage is a focused leap over their previous record, 2015’s Horse Dance. There’s a tidal flow to the album, rising into a euphoric pitch and sustaining it well for the bulk of the album before easing into the comedown. The group pulls back the feverish intensity as the album wanes, sliding into the (mostly) cool waters of “Rushing Through My Mind,” the abstract notions of “Circular Motion,” and the crisp-collared pop of “Where I’m Going.” There aren’t any real low points on Mirage, its a crafted tapestry of pop, psych, and swirl that feels as hypnotic on repeated listens as it does the first go-round. Josefin and her Liberation aren’t breaking the bounds of pop-sike’s hold but they are making a captivating argument for its continued existence.
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