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Fair Weather Karma

Fair Weather Karma

It was just over a year ago that I went a bit rough on the three-track Melt EP by Sciflyer. I'll admit that it was a little hard to get past the super lo-fi recording and the muddy sound, but that release still felt like the band was in transition in terms of which direction they wanted to go after their first EP. While they haven't changed their style a huge amount from between that very first release and this newest album, they've definitely refined their songwriting and pulled out some better melodies along the way. The result is 9 tracks of space-rocking goodness, and a huge step up from either of their previous efforts.

Although the group still used an old-school 8-track recorder for the album, this go-around they were helped by a couple different producers (who have worked with everyone from Tarentel to Stratford 4), and although the soft edges are still there, they simply blur out into an overall gauzy haze that the album projects. The opening track of "Barnstorm" sets the stage with what sounds like something off their previous efforts, a tinny strummer that lacks any real sonic depth. Fortunately, that track is only 1 minute long and when contrasted with the more produced, rich swirling guitars of the following track "Burn And Sell," it only serves as an even more solid reminder of the better recording values and how much they help bring things alive. The latter track is a full-tilt rock track with buried vocals that wraps around itself nicely before squirming loose and taking off.

"You're From The Ocean" keeps the pace on the high end of things before the group drops a lull bomb in the form of the blissed-out "Burning Down The House" (no relation to the Talking Heads song). As with the rest of the vocals on the release, they're absolutely buried beneath the thick haze of guitars, and really only become another melodic element in the song (because you'd have to be pretty darn good at deciphering to figure out what they were saying), drifting behind the layers of cascading guitars. At 12 minutes, it runs through ideas pretty quickly before recycling them, but like many tracks of its nature, the repetitive, psychedelic nature

The group is at their best when they hit sort of a mid-tempo stride that allows for maximum guitar atmosphere exposure. The fuzzy rockers have been done millions of times by other groups, so it's hard to make tracks like, "Like An Ion" really stand out without a great hook or vocal melody, neither of which it doesn't really have. The warm instrumental of "Alpha Centauri" plays like a charm, though, despite its simplicity, mainly because the guitars can really stretch out and meld with the fuzzy recording technique. By the end of the album, the vocals have gotten a wee bit higher in the mix, and on "Letting Go Of Everything," they're almost discernable. It almost feels like something Ride would have done on a good day, and it's a nice closer to the release. Sciflyer have made steps with this release, and if you're a fan of soft shoegazing (with the occasional rock moment), you'd probably do well to hunt it down.

Rating: 6.75