At this point in his career, Jon Dwyer has little to answer for or care about with regards to meeting anyone’s expectations other than his own. Still he goes for it hard each time, and with fairly few missteps Thee Oh Sees continue to be the dominant strain in garage-psych that all others seem to draw from. Though, in perhaps a student has become the master moment, Thee Oh Sees have augmented their setup to include a second drummer, equaling the psych-o-naut pummel of their one time stablemates King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. For A Weird Exits everything is bigger and run through with concurrent strains of mutant punk and placid psych that have always been bubbling under the surface of Dwyer’s warped vision. In a way, it seems that this might have been what he was striving for all along. Its not as consistently terse and frantic, but there’s still plenty of vein bulging, panic sweat moments. Its the moments that melt into the radiator, humid and hazy that give the album a new perspective.
Two instrumental breaks give the album texture, the first with a a motorik, squalling quality that’s beset with feedbacking fizz and synth splatter, the second with a lonesome mellowness that tempers the album’s fire. They move the records pace along, ushering in sonic reducers and building to the album’s epic finale double dose of “Crawl Out From the Fall Out” and “The Axis,” the latter of which may be garage-psych’s answer to “Tuesday’s Gone,” There’s a dark aura of psychedelic heaviness on this album, even in the album titles and though I’m sure it has more to do with the Monster Manual in its origins, there’s a part of me that wants “Gelatinous Cube” to stem from a night spent high watching Wayne’s World and riffing on Brian Doyle Murray’s explanation of Zoltar.
Pop refs aside though, this is a watershed moment for Thee Oh Sees. Get this long in the tooth and its bound to feel like you might just be filling in the template, but the band continues to expand on their garage hijinks to include well paced and shaded albums that aren’t just sticking singles together with filler and glue. A Weird Exits is more of a statement than the band have made yet, though its clear that Mutilator Defeated At Last was on the trajectory that’s delivered A Weird Exits. Its a double album worthy of the sleeve space, burning and fuming, smoldering and crumbling to ash. Though Thee Oh Sees section on my record shelf is heavy to bursting, somehow Dwyer and crew always make it worthwhile to wedge one more volume in for good measure.
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