The Black Angels – “Indigo Meadow”
Break out the mescaline and aviators, the lords of neo-psych rock have come back to Earth. Indigo Meadows is a strong return for The Black Angels, erupting onto the scene like a groovy time-machine to the 60’s. First some introduction may be necessary to those unfamiliar to Alex Maas and his crew. Hailing from Austin, TX, The Black Angels were formed in 2004 due to mutual appreciation for the finest music of rock’s heyday. (Fun fact: The band’s named is derived from The Velvet Underground song “The Black Angel’s Death Song.”) Indigo Meadows is the band’s 4th studio album and it has all the charm and psychedelia of their past records.
The album opens with the title track as Stephanie Bailey’s drums crash onto the scene. Soon the hypnotic guitar riffs begin to unwind and the full power of it hits you. Indigo Meadow is a step away from previous releases with the content being less sinister and more transcendental. Like an acid trip, the songs seamlessly flow from quiet tremor to roaring riffs and back again. The songs bring to mind what a lovechild between The Doors and Os Mutantes might sound like. A couple tracks in particular rise above the rest. “You’re Mine” stands out as one of the album’s best. Catchy chorus, mesmerizing guitar licks, with a sharp beat; it is my personal favorite from The Black Angels. “Love Me Forever” shares that trance-inducing vibe, luring you into the song like a gypsy snake charmer. “Don’t Play with Guns” is less psychedelic, more straight up rock and roll. It was written in response to last summer’s Aurora shootings, demonstrating that the band can convey a message without becoming too political. Alex Maas’ signature purr graces each song with an element of cool that would make even the most pretentious of music fans explore this album.
Alas, as with all reviews I must also highlight some of the setbacks. Imagine you go to the supermarket to buy some fruit. You pick up an apple, it’s fresh and delicious…but it’s still an apple. Indigo Meadows at times feels too confined within the space-rockadelic genre. Upon multiple listenings the album comes off a bit tired and trite. The Black Angels play what they know, and they play it well; however it is nothing revolutionary. There are no surprises here, whether that is a positive or a negative is up to your own discretion.
Despite the lack of variety, Indigo Meadow is a psych-rock staple. The Black Angels continue to disprove the saying “rock is dead” with a solid album that stands along some of the finest in the field. To listeners unfamiliar with the genre, Indigo Meadow is a must have; a fantastic journey through time and space with enchanting songs that seduce you into seeking more. For those already well accustomed to the magic of psych-rock, this is still an album worth diving into but don’t expect anything too mind-blowing. Overall on my arbitrary rating scale, Indigo Meadow is a satisfying 7/10.
Tracks to check out: “You’re Mine,” “Love Me Forever,” “Don’t Play with Guns,” and “Holland.”
Review by Stephen Barry.