These Wonderful Evils - "Like Mercury" (Parade Room)
Unassuming and cathartic, the music of Chicago’s Zak Boerger coils and swells in elliptical rings. His debut under the moniker These Wonderful Evils, Regine Flory, established this abstruse approach to songwriting. It meandered in the realm of lo-fi psychedelia akin to the 90s experimental New Zealand scene, but it never quite could find a foothold of distinction. Parade Room however does just that. Boerger whittles a small niche all his own out of the vast trunk of bedroom psych-rock, and it’s a quite stirring slow burn of a record.
Parade Room, Boerger’s sophomore effort as These Wonderful Evils, is almost a benign noise record, unrushed in the execution and more focused on the atypical melding of styles than the urgency of a message. Each layer of guitar tone feels meticulously appointed: just the right degree of fuzz atop the resonant tremolo of a softly wavering electric guitar atop lapping undulations of a warmly strummed acoustic. Each song is a splattering of melancholy with just enough direction to keep it moving forward, though without a particular destination. With the addition of infrequent harmonica and vocals à la a mumbling Lou Reed, it culminates in a steady rippling of melodic noise that cascades on your emotions, like Richard Youngs re-imagining the Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk sessions.
The album is separated into two parts: the first five tracks that drift in and out of song-based structures and the nearly twenty minutes of temperate guitar-psych that make up “The Light Pours Out of D.C.” Boerger’s talent isn’t in his ability to shred for hours on end or annihilate your floor speakers with devastating outbursts of feedback; in fact, most of the album feels about a step slower and quieter than you are most likely accustomed to hearing in this genre, especially the epic closer. This intuitively captures the listener’s attention as it mildly confuses the ears, and the subsequent concentration is rewarded with layers of sound to decipher. Much in the same manner of an early Stooges song or the Spacemen 3 oeuvre, the dragging pace doesn’t inhibit the energy; it adds a palpable heaviness.
Boerger’s guitar playing feels more in debt to the late-60s British folk artists or the Takoma camp rather than any particular guitar virtuoso in the field of heavy electric psych, even though the final product sounds otherwise. And this patient twang, laced with odd-tempo trills and roundabout improvisation, gives Parade Room a more comforting folksy vibe despite the habitual use of distortion. Boerger’s music saunters, but it does so with a hair-raising effect. It will leave you tingling at the most frayed ends of your most sensitive nerves, a feeling at the core of psychedelia’s definition.