Hailing from the kookiest, quirkiest peninsula of psychedelia, Guerilla Toss have produced some of the most sonorous oddball records of the past few years. 2016’s ‘Eraser Stargazer’ saw the group utilise the studio sumptuously, giving us a noble, colourful array of sounds and textures, bettered only by last year’s ‘GT Ultra’. Both albums oozed of Guerilla Toss’s determination and passion of experimentation and exploration, with a number of spaces in between habituated by moments of catchy pop music – on ‘Twisted Crystal’, GT flip their sound!
Still produced with a kaleidoscopic emphasis on textural arrangements, ranging from the juicy, gooey basslines of ‘Hacking Machine’ and ‘Jesus Rabbit’ to the strange synths and guitar lines of ‘Retreat’, ‘Twisted Crystal’ is cutting edge, doing things a little differently to their rockier psych contemporaries. But, as mentioned, the experimentation is more-or-less put to one side, as Guerilla Toss occasionally dabble but prefer to give the listener something to latch onto, with catchy melodies galore!
The aforementioned ‘Jesus Rabbit’ sees Kassie Carlson channel David Byrne on the verses, mentally taking apart a television screen, assuredly noting “and the frame…I can use for a picture”. But as the memorable punch of pop is the name of the game, things don’t really get going until the playground sing-along chorus of “Jesus, Jesus take me from this planet, you’re the leader, I’m your little rabbit” comes in.
The danceable ‘Meteorological’ combines space rock with Debbie Harry style half-rapping, ‘Come Up with Me’ hoists the record’s most momentous guitar riff, before delivering a strangely emotional vocal melody, both in the verse and chorus, and if you like said emotion, you’ll love ‘Jackie’s Daughter’, with its warped, but loving hook, fitting in perfectly between the groovy, trippy verses.
The lyrical and vocal performances on ‘Twisted Crystal’ aren’t too unlike what we’ve come to expect from Guerilla Toss. They’re rich and wonderous, enthusing eclecticism with deadpan, and much like on closer ‘Green Apple’, often drunk with thought.
At the very least, ‘Twisted Crystal’ proves the potential of Guerilla Toss as more of a pop-minded band. Not to say it’s definitely their best, or most refined work, but GT are a tour de force here, surmounting in the fact that they’re a lot better as a pop group with experimental leaning, than an experimental group with pop leanings.