With all the surface-level subtlety of throwing their instruments off a bridge, but with an ear for the nuances that lurk at the lo-fi end of the production spectrum, Psychedelic Horseshit tends to produce records that reveal themselves with repeated listens in ways that those by lots of their contemporaries don’t. Laced, the band’s second full-length record and first on Fatcat, could be seen as Psychedelic Horseshit going pop, but we’re talking about Matt Whitehurst here, so it’s not really “pop,” and they’re not really going directly there, either.
A few of the songs here, like the title track, “Revolution Wavers,” and the basement-style Philip Glass moves of “Time of Day,” suggest that PH has stepped up its game, creating the sort of budget electro-pop only hinted at in its more guitar-oriented releases. For every moment like those, though, you’ve got something like “Tropical Vision,” which consists of Whitehurst rambling about a “tropical endeavor” for almost three minutes over a distorted drum machine. Depending on the order in which these songs were recorded, it honestly wouldn’t be that surprising if Laced is the sonic representation of Psychedelic Horseshit buying a bunch of electronic equipment and gradually getting better at using it.
The left-field prettiness of Laced‘s arrangements can be impressive, but every time the record settles down, a wacky part pushes in the other direction. This ends up creating an ironic distance that, given the dead-sincere nature of Whitehurst’s delivery, doesn’t seem like it should be there. Like The Hospitals and Home Blitz, there’s an intentional element of the discomfort borne out of watching someone who’s trying really hard do a bad job.
Indeed, there’s something about Laced that suggests that, as much as Psychedelic Horseshit never takes its feet off the gas, it always seem to know more or less where it’s going. Its M.O. consists of burying pop under layers upon layers of carefully controlled crumminess and confusion, but what sets the group apart from actual crumminess and confusion is itis ability to increase or decrease those qualities by the slightest bit, at just the right time. This modulation tends to utterly alienate anybody not willing to follow Matt Horseshit and his incredibly weird ideas about pop to the ends of the musical earth. Even for those on board, though, Laced winds up evoking a vague feeling of being jerked around in a way similar to that brought on by Jim O’Rourke’s schmaltzier solo material, or the way you can never really tell how serious Brian Ferry is being.
PH’s previous efforts (the live shows, in particular) have been experiments in what an average listener can take, punctuated with bursts of pleasant catchiness. On Laced, Whitehurst has inverted the ratio, which works, which means the more grating leftovers can be appreciated for the oddities they are. The band’s sense of humor has gotten them this far, after all.