Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5
The Moles' Untune The Sky is simply one of the unheralded peaks of neo-psych. This Australian group, headed by the exceptionally talented Richard Davies, managed to eke several new angles out of shopworn psychedelic influences while throwing a few new curveballs of their own. According to the liner notes, the band recorded this with the help of copious amounts of beer. This may be true, but judging from the warped recordings found on the disc, they very well may have spiked it with something a little stronger.
The first two tracks of the album establish the band's battle plan. "Bury Me Happy" opens the disc with a hazy Byrds/early-REM 12 string riff and some happy monks sort of harmony. Davies' top rate pop songwriting hits this one right out of the park and the somewhat lo-fi recording quality adds in a cloudy atmosphere that works perfectly for the song. The entire album is pretty lo-fi for that matter, but it gives the impression of hanging out in a really kick-ass basement club.
The album then plunges into lysergic weirdness for the maniacally shifting "Tendrils And Paracetamol." It's quite unique as the parts of the varying parts of the song are almost like something a prog rock band would do, but the punkish acid-soaked playing erases any notions of prog. It takes a few listens to really get this one, but it is yet another highlight, so make sure to give it more than one chance.
Amazingly, almost every track here has something amazing to offer. Davies continues to work out his pop mojo on the groovy "Rebecca" (featuring the strange chorus of "Wonder free fall Rebecca"), and power-pop like "Europe By Car." The groups harmonies are often strange, yet alluring. Check out the demented singing on "Breathe Me In" for a highlight. On "Lonely Hearts Get What They Deserve" and "This Is A Happy Garden" nail the more dreamy ballad-esque side of the psychedelic coin.
Matching "Tendrils And Paracetemol" for disturbing freakiness is "Nailing Jesus To The Cross." Over a background of buzzsaw guitars and hammering percussion is an all-too-happy vocal singing about the title subject. The album proper comes to a fantastic close with the Beach Boys-nicking title "Surf's Up." It has nothing to do with the Smile track, but lives up to its name with cascading waves of guitar and organ.
Added on to this CD compilation is the four song What's The New Mary Jane EP. The title track matches anything on the album, although the other three tracks don't display quite the same level of songwriting. Still, the production values are a little better and there is some wild experimentation, especially on the closing "Let's Hook Up And Get Some."
The Moles - 1991 - Untune The Sky