White Fence For the Recently Found Innocent

[Drag City; 2014]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: studio-garage rock
Others: Ty Segal, Woods

In last year’s Cyclops Reap, White Fence’s Tim Presley utilized psychedelic elements to abstract tracks and sonically screw with our consciousness. An excellent example can be heard in the guitar solo that both breaks down and picks up in the middle of “Trouble Is Trouble Never Seen.” The second time this happens in the same track, his guitar fuckery even trips up the backing band, which could’ve been intentional, but it takes the listener off-guard anyway, breaking the audience’s psyche. However, for the guitar solo in “Wolf Gets Red Face” on his latest album, For the Recently Found Innocent, Presley instead follows through with politeness and grace. He’s no longer distracting us by trying something mind-tickling; he simply refurbishes a sound audiences have probably heard so many times that it washes over them like another track on Sirius XM Radio.

And without Presley bending listeners’ psyches or attracting them to the music by deploying consciousness-shattering sounds, the songs end up blurring together in pits of chord progressions and verses that would find nice homes at your local gas station or Wal-Mart. In fact, TMT’s Riboflavin was explaining last year in his Cyclops Reap review that the album “offers something different from the falling/rising chord formative music.” But when White Fence doesn’t offer something different on the new album, it ends up falling flat and feels meaningless.

Thankfully, For the Recently Found Innocent is slightly redeemed through its lyrical content and vocal melodies. Not that the actual vocals are doing anything groundbreaking in tone or in structure, but the lyrics are funny and ambitious. While I personally find lyrics that tell me what and how to think too demanding, Presley is an amusing writer: he makes you think about what’s actually being sung. It’s something I can appreciate, and it’s a lyrical approach that isn’t too different from that of Cyclops Reap. And then there’s the humorous title itself — For the Recently Found Innocent. Who is innocent anyway? Is it Drag City? The listener? Those who helped him write/produce the album? Maybe Presley himself finding a new direction in music?

Now, I’m aware my name isn’t Tim Presley, and I can’t speak on his behalf. So let’s go back to where I know For the Recently Found Innocent began: Ty Segall’s garage, which houses a professional recording studio. From the start, White Fence had the intention of making this release crisper in comparison to Cyclops Reap by doubling up the recording tracks (from four to eight). And if there were hanging moments or fragments in any of the songs, they’d likely end up messing with the entirety of the album’s sanitized atmosphere of sound. But regardless of his aims, Presley’s face on the album’s cover — painted in grey and white, trapped inside my media player — still seems like it’s scowling at me. Which is a shame, because I really dug Cyclops Reap and Family Perfume.

Links: White Fence - Drag City

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