Every now and then, certain bands come along that push just about all of my musical buttons and Great Valley are definitely one of those bands. I feel like I get at least one of the tunes from their recent surreal opus Lizards of Camelot stuck in my head on a weekly basis, but not in a typical fashion. Great Valley excel at marrying pure pop sensibilities to utterly weird conceptual/musical ideas, and as a result, their tunes are at once instantly memorable yet always blurred and off in the best way possible. Consequently, their hooks often seep in subconsciously, so it’s not always obvious that the guitar riff that’s been incessantly looping in your brain came from a fractured song about lizard knights.
Jaws of Evil is Great Valley’s “lost ‘second album’” and it serves as another prime example of the band’s ability to subtly disguise their pop classicism as sonic experimentation. These tunes are concerned with the dichotomy between song and noise in a manner similar to the Olivia Tremor Control’s work but Great Valley plays this music with a sort of giddy punk abandon. This is deeply infectious work but it hides itself under layers of gloriously murky sonic debris. For instance, opening track “Junglejoy” begins with piercing drones before giving way to power pop riffing that would seem fairly normal if it weren’t for the warbly textural vocals, synth, and pitch shifted guitar that fill out the arrangement. Tracks like “Night Vision” and “U Can’t Kill Me” follow in a similar manner and illustrate the brilliance of Great Valley’s sonic prowess. By writing instrumental arrangements that don’t behave like typical pop arrangements, Great Valley naturally embed experimentation onto their songs at a foundational level and the tracks on Jaws of Evil serve to further examine the dichotomy between noise and song in their work.
Jaws of Evil is out May 6 via Spooky Town Tapes. You can streams selections from the record below: