Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – ‘Shyga! The Sunlight Mound’

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If you’ve never listened to a Psychedelic Porn Crumpets album before, ‘Big Dijon’ – the opening track to the Perth quintet’s raucous fourth outing – provides a rather hilarious orchestral moment of brevity that’s almost akin to a warning. The ominous last lines, “surrender to the render”, signify that the point of getting off the rollercoaster is about to pass. What follows is Jack McEwan’s band of miscreants showing that they’ve perfected the art of turning a line of… mysterious white powder… into an album. Though its 14-track runtime gives the appearance of a hefty slog of a record, you’ll quickly find that ‘SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound’ ends as quickly as it begins and, like an adrenaline junky, once it’s over, you’ll be hard pressed not to run through its buzzing collection of acidic rock tracks again. And again. And again.

When the foot is placed firmly on the gas for the aptly named ‘Tally-Ho’, you can be confident that’s where it’ll remain for the duration of the album. Anyone familiar with PPC will deeply enjoy the remaining tracks, as there’s quite a lot of familiar, favourable ground tread here but while older singles included on the record, such as ‘Mr. Prism’ – a QOTSA-style desert rock piece released earlier in 2020 -and ‘Mundungus’, released a month after third album ‘And Now For The Whatchamacallit’ certainly feel closer to those earlier records, the remainder of “SHYGA!” feels like a formula fine tuned.

While they remain firmly within the boundaries ofthe aural profile they’ve built themselves, this doesn’t detract much from their defining trait of pure manic energy, and there are moments that highlight how the band has at least experimented a little with that formula. Songs like ‘The Terrors’, with its out of control landslide drums and shrieking guitars-that-don’t-even-sound-like-guitars-anymore, or ‘Triplosaur’, laced with tints of the 70s with its Led Zeppelin-like riffs, each provide a chance for PPC to stretch their wings a little. It’s these little additions throughout that prevent the record from feeling stale and all together, they make for a wonderfully upbeat rendition of what a heart attack from caffeine would sound like.

It’s a surprise then, when ‘Mango Terrarium’ and ‘Round The Corner’… Well, come around the corner, representing the lighter, dreamier end of PPC’s particular brand of acid trip. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of the rare times the album lifts its foot off that gas pedal just a smidge, but even slowing down the pace a little, the playful nature of the two tracks make more of an impression than you’d expect, ultimately providing some of the album’s most memorable moments. Indeed, final track ‘Tale of Gurney Gridman’ caps the album off with a rather collected comedown in its glitchy acoustic closing section, bringing you down and reminding you to “look after your neighbours, and they’ll look after you”. 

Production wise, PPC retains the signature ‘fuzz’ prevalent in nearly all of their releases. McEwans’ vocals remain as distorted as ever under broken radio effect, while guitars are twisted and vivisected into something new. It’s a stylistic choice, one that fits the group’s hazy state of being, and fans of that haze won’t have much to complain about – especially when combined with the more unique sounds appearing on the album. In particuarly, the bitcrushed opening to ‘Sawtooth Monkfish’ – featuring a despicably fuzz-filthy bassline from Luke Reynold – greatly benefits from the production choices. Like some heavier bands such as Kvelertak, however, the cramped feeling created by the audio can also lead to frustrating results in the likes of ‘Hats Off To Green Bins’, at times sounding like every instrument is in competition with the others to be heard. It would have been nice to see some clearer production at times, just to get a proper look at what PPC’s headbanging instrumentation is capable of when given ample space to breathe.

What remains clear through it all, however, is that Psychedelic Porn Crumpets don’t just believe their own hype, they are the hype, and it’s one of their most endearing traits. It’s rock for the cocky gambler who’s bet it all on black, for the getaway driver looking to ramp over an impossible gap on the bridge to freedom. It’s the soundtrack playing in the action hero’s head during a shootout, and while ‘SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound’ very rarely relents from its electric pace, PPC’s boundless energy and infectious confidence are never exhausting. Mold breaking? Perhaps not, but the Crumpets’ delivery of sweet and sour psychedelia ensures they keep their spot high atop the mountain in Australia’s rock scene.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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