The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s recent albums have been steeped in the spirit of exploration and experimentalism but Anton Newcombe’s collaboration with Canadian singer Tess Parks (who previously recorded for Alan McGee’s label) seems to take him back to the best days of the BJM. But rather than retro, what makes this record so fine is the effect of her voice set against his music. We first heard the result on the 10” single released on Record Store Day in April, bringing together 'Cocaine Cat' and 'Mama' (both included here). ‘Cocaine Cat’ is astonishing, Tess’s sedated growl – Hope Sandoval on horse tranquillisers - surfing on waves of fuzzy guitars, set to the darkest of melodies. The repetition of ‘German Tangerine’ raises the sense of intensity but the rasping sweetness of Tess’ voice, which you imagine slowly trickling from her mouth like thick molasses, slows everything down again, as on the shoegazey psychedelic sound of ‘Peace Defrost’, which combines fuzz and jangling West Coast guitars, echoing the finest moments of the BJM. Tess sounds most narcotised on the hazy ‘Meliorist’, where she groans: “do ya wanna kill me, baby, for living a happy life?” while the album ends on the epic ‘Friendlies’, where little orchestral touches push it skywards and soaring.
It’s an inspired pairing with haunting results, a mix of fine psychedelic pop and vocals like honey-covered gravel that will stay with you for a long time.