Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
The Essex Green are another group of neo-psych rockers affiliated with the Elephant 6 recording collective. Their specialty is refracting pastoral acid folk through a psych pop prism, and they're not too bad at the job. At their best the recordings osund like they could have come straight out of Joe Boyd's studio around 1968, although the Essex Green does have the occasional nasty tendency to revert to 90's indie rock cliches, especially in terms of the vocals (for example the cutesy female vocals on "The Playground"). Fortunately, the cover art does a great job of implanting a psychological suggestion that you're holding onto the real deal. This looks about right sitting next to an ISB or Stone Poneys album. Truth be told, I originally bought this about eight years ago based pretty much on the cover art.
Although a few things here do make me cringe, let's look at the highlights. "Primrose" is a very convincing amped-up acid folk track, and would probably sit unnoticed on a Nuggets-type compilation, despite being recorded about 30 years off the mark. "Grass" is a very hazy, atmospheric folk dirge that leaves no question about what kind of grass they're referring to. I especially dig the slightly phased vocals. "Tinker" is the only extended track here, and it recalls one of the better bands that you'd hear pounding away on some forlorn stage in a 60's psychedelic exploitation film. "Sixties" works well musically musically with its folk-rock-with-sitars sound, but the lyrics on this one are a touch cringeworthy. Speaking of cringing, "The Playground," "Mrs. Bean," "Saturday," and "The Sun" contain too much sugar for my soul. These are also the tracks where the vocals end up sounding like an anachronism. This particularly scars "The Sun," which I want to like but just don't.
This is a very pleasurable, if flawed album. For the most part the Essex Green aims for a pretty convincing retread of the 60's psych-pop scene, but the moments out of character do prevent this one from really doing the job properly. If you want to hear a band do it completely successfully, then I refer you to the Olivia Tremor Control's proper LPs. Still, there are several tracks present here that I wouldn't want to live without, and maybe you'd be a little happier with them in your life too. This is pretty happy music, even when they're trying to be melancholy.