King Heavy Metal
(2015, Guided by Voices Inc.)
Ricked Wicky, the Dayton, OH supergroup, return a scant 5 and half months after their debut LP, I Sell the Circus. For their next act, the fourseome take their original power-pop concept and feeds it through the grinder. From its cover art to overall aural feel, King Heavy Metal is a bold followup, spreading its legs into Circus Devils, or even Mopping Swans territory rather than the often stadium ready power-pop of Boston Spaceships past.
Recorded (mostly) by mainstay/songwriting gunslinger, Nick Mitchell, the LP finds the band sounding like... a full-fledged band! This is the sound of cohesion being born, no matter what style Ricked Wicky dabbles in from track to track. That's not to say the LP is not without the off-the-cuff Pollard charmers, and bare bones tracks with sweeping instrumentation. Ricked Wicky feels like an official movement, something significant being cemented in the cannon.
King Heavy Metal is a much darker, twisted follow-up, swirling with left fielded ideas; some stick, others unravel. But what a trip it is.
Jargon of Clones- 5 Some pure GBV throwback right here. Sometimes it's perfectly acceptable to plagiarize yourself. This opening track sounds like a perfect blend of some golden classic lineup stuff left off Under the Bushes Under the Stars. Melancholy hooks, soaring vocals, all at 2 minutes!
Come Into My Wig Shop- 3 So strange, it's kind of fascinating. If it were on a Circus Devils LP, I'd think less of this. A collage of sorts. Part spy theme played at an obtuse time signature, bongo interludes, psych dropouts, noise swirls, AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" played wrong, and Pollard yelling "Come Into My Wig Shop." Kind of can't get enough. And all at 2 minutes...
Imminent Fall From Grace- 2 A slightly beefed up, "remastered" version of the Nick Mitchell penned tune that appears as the b-side of the Mobility 7'' (the single from I Sell the Circus). I don't know. It's probably the same version, but my headphones deceive me. Not only is this a cheesy, dated track with poor lyrics, but the fact Pollard and Mitchell rereleased it is an odd choice, especially when every other Nick Mitchell b-side has been so good up to this point.
Too Strong For No One To See You- 4 Pollardian acoustic plucking accompanied with vintage, early 00's Pollard crooning. Hauntingly beautiful horn part takes this song to a new height, as the subtle layers begin to build. A poetic, deeply affecting hidden gem.
This Has Been My Picture- 3 One of the longer tracks of the LP, if not the strangest of them all. Lo-fi piano pounding accompanied by acoustic strums gives way to doomy, Sabbath sludge. Sparse guitar dirge parts give way to explosive blasts and simplistic guitar repetition. Snyth lead, stadium rock choruses come out of nowhere. So good, but lasts a lifetime. Seems to play out too long for its own good.
Ogling Blarest- 4 Hard rock pastiche with some excellent deadpan monotone psych vocals which, at times, are doubled for an unexpectedly hooky effect. Could fit comfortably on any recent Circus Devils LP, but lives on firmly in the Ricked Wicky universe.
Tomfoole Terrific- 5 A slow stadium rock burner that creeps into the deep recesses of your brain and crawls out for light frequently. This one's got it all; effective buildups, cryptic lyrics, killer and perfectly appropriate guitar acrobatics from Nick Mitchell. Raise a fist...
Earth Among Men- 2 Good God! Full blown electronics here; a rarity in the Pollard catalog. Here, we're presented with a real head-scratcher. A familiar, above average melody is happening somewhere in the mix. Unfortunately, it's buried under a muck of snyth, noise scraps, and electro buzzing. Enjoyable, on some level, for its nonconformity and its throw-shit-into-the-fan-and-see-what-sticks-to-the-wall attitude.
Weekend Worriers- 5 The second Nick Mitchell penned track of the LP, this one's the redemption. Teeters on cheesy, but tips heavily into the greatest track unreleased by most stadium ready rock bands of the early to mid 70's. Infectiously listenable. The new great drinking anthem. Excellent.
Walk Through Glass- 3 Piano backbone holds up this layer cake of synth and single strum guitar blasts. Confident Pollard delivery throughout. Repetitive prog play on this short, inward looking track. Food for thought is an ultimate winner.
I'll Let You In- 4 Another GBV-esque classic type. A first, it's solid, but just a little too dull getting to any hook, or even finding a solid one. It seems like wasted potential with such a solid backing track... But finally, we reach the outro; "all of it frightening and all so exciting now..." part, with duel harmonies as the band crashes into rock n roll oblivion. Well played, sirs.
Map and Key- 4 One of the greater sendoffs to a Pollard fronted LPs since "Alex and the Omegas" off Motivational Jumpsuit. This is the second longest one of record, taking us through proggy-interludes followed by breezy, autumn day choruses that ride off into spaced out guitar noodling by Mitchell. A long and strange trip... well worth it.