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Wooden Shjips - Back To Land (Review)

Wooden Shjips, Back To Land

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

WITH each consecutive release, Wooden Shjips have found new ways of transforming heady psychedelic rock into something contemporary and enjoyable.

Back To Land, their latest, is no exception. It’s shot through with some terrific guitar work, some toe-tapping anthems and a keen appreciation for some of the best past practitioners of the genre.

If anything, there is even now an increased brightness to many of the songs, as well as an easiness with which the band has flirted with in the past but never fully realized until now.

This is best evidenced, early on, amid the interlocking guitar and organ groove of Ruin, which also manages to adopt a Doors-like groove both vocally and in those organs. It’s slick and enjoyable, even before it unleashes a scintillating guitar solo around the four minute and a half mark.

Admittedly, the stoner/psychedelic nature of the vocals may be alienating to some and does make it difficult to fully get what the song is about. But there’s no denying the quality of the instrumentals, which hark back to yesteryear in damn fine style.

There’s still more upbeat energy to be found amid the scuzzy organs and lively beats of Ghouls, which adopts an even more laidback and almost whispered vocal.

But while that’s good, These Shadows is even better. The laidback groove, the beautifully realised guitars and the breezy organ melodies serve to create a trippy slice of chilled out psychedelia that’s just great for kicking back to and allowing the song to wash over you (especially once the gorgeous guitars are allowed to take centre stage).

It’s almost a shame that the album gets back to a more standard foot-stomper on In These Roses. In fact, the album’s best moments tend to highlight its weaker, or more samey ones even more.

But then Servants is worth checking out, adopting a brooding bassline to augment the addictive combination of driving guitars and slick solo moments, while Everybody Knows embraces a crisper sound and some breezy organs to ensure you depart on a feel-good high (even shooting forward in time to embrace Dandy Warhols).

Back To Land may not be to everyone’s taste and sometimes gets a little too stuck in a routine of its own making. But it’s defined by its standout moments, which make the album well worth checking out.

Download picks: Ruins, These Shadows, Servants, Everybody Knows

Track listing:

  1. Back To Land
  2. Ruins
  3. Ghouls
  4. These Shadows
  5. In The Roses
  6. Other Stars
  7. Servants
  8. Everybody Knows