A few weeks ago, after returning from a lengthy vacation halfway across the world, I returned home to a packet of albums to review. My mind was ablaze with the many strange sights, sounds, and smells of my trip. For a few days, I staggered around my house, emulating “real life” as I went through the motions of trying to return to normalcy, all the while feeling dizzy with dreams of the mind-$%*& that was Africa, the comfort of the English countryside, and a 36-hour spree to Paris. It was tough enough to be back in a familiar setting that somehow didn’t feel so familiar anymore, and yet, there lay a pile of work for me to attend to — something that screamed “reality.” I wasn’t sure I was ready to listen.
Before I’d left for my travels, I’d re-fallen madly in love with the psychedelic sounds of bands like the La’s: an infectious concoction of jangly guitars, acidic licks, and a heavy dose of distortion. But I forgot all that on the road. It was only once I stuck The Purrs’ second full-length, The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together, into the stereo that things began to change. The lazy rock riffs, tinged with dark surrealism, seeped in. As cliché as it sounds, The Purrs scratched me where I knew I itched but I had simply forgotten the cure. I credit them with bringing me back.
The four-piece masters a perfectly throwback psych-rock sound, full of syrupy guitar riffs and jangly hooks. I’m immersed by the end of lead track “Drive,” and by the time the bouncy “Miles Away” hits my ears, I’m singing and dancing along to the reverby guitar leads, uptempo rock beat, and perfectly swoonworthy chorus of vocals. “She’s Got Chemicals,” like a modern day “My Drug Buddy,” is also a high-point (pun intended), though I swear I’ve heard that lead riff before — I think The Purrs may have been influenced by The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” a little blatantly. The bluesy, jammy instrumental opener of “Disconnected” is definitely something I look forward to hearing in a sticky-floored bar with a g&t in hand.
My only real complaint is the somewhat underdeveloped lyrical content of the album. I trust the band is capable of improvement, as in “Waiting for the Asteroid” — every time I hear it, I crack up at the line “I’ve got flat black hair and a mixing board, so I’m always in control.” And “You Don’t Look So Good” features a killer opener: “Nothing kills a buzz like a botched suicide / It can really ruin your day” drawls Jima. Fantastically perverse. But the chorus, “I know it’s none of my business, but you don’t look so good” just leaves me flat. That thought could be so much more well-developed. I feel like a highschool English teacher saying so (“Show, don’t tell!”) but there you have it.