Psychic Ills Dins

[The Social Registry; 2006]

Styles: art rock, space rock, shoegazer, experimental
Others: My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth, Macha

Already part of the healthy NYC art rock underground, Psychic Ills seem poised for indie stardom, but Dins, their debut album, may not quite cement it. Operating on an alternately consonant and dissonant avant rock terrain close in spirit to the one so well traversed by Sonic Youth, these musicians don't seem to be as comfortable rocking on a nice riff as they do harnessing psychedelic effects and various scraps of noise to construct beautiful little nuggets of sound collage.

Following the conga-driven intro of "East," "Electric Life" represents the album's first song-oriented track. However, it isn't until about 2:30 that the song part rises from a gentle collage of sound that figures as the first half of the track. A light cacophony of clanging metal -- like the sound of twenty mechanical monkeys off in the distance -- and something harmonica-esque gives way to a tom-heavy drumbeat, a sinewy bassline, some guitar, and a voice mildly intoning something about an electric life. No real changes take place within this chorus, and the song eventually fades out. This sets the back-and-forth game that gets played for the rest of the album, with the noisier, free-form moments dominating. This is somewhat endearing, but ultimately leaves me a bit wanting. The album's most charming moment comes in the closer "Another Day Another Night." The melodic guitar line there is so close to John Cafferty's "Heart's on Fire" that it seems intentional (somebody ask them about it for me okay?). This upbeat element puts a smile on my face each time I hear it, while also reminding me that the rest of the album lacks a similar spark. Obviously committed to challenging the limitations of rock, Psychic Ills are a band to keep on the radar, but it might take some time before they live up to their own aspirations.

1. East
2. Electric Life
3. Untitled
4. January Rain
5. Inauration
6. I Knew My Name
7. Witchcraft Breaker
8. Another Day Another Night