Isla Vista Beat Reporter
The Golden Animals’ sophomore album, “Hear Eye Go,” has been five years in the works since the release of their illustrious debut, “Free Your Mind and Win a Pony.” Released Sept. 24 on Austin Psych Fest’s Reverberation Appreciation Society label, “Hear Eye Go” is the long-awaited product of the band’s nomadic journey from the California backlands back to their hometown of Brooklyn. In a collection of 10 animated but melancholic tracks, the Golden Animals up the psychedelic ante while holding true to their bluesy, desert-rock sound.
The band consists of a simple duo — Tommy Eisner (vocals/guitar) and Linda Beecroft (drums/vocals). Despite their sparse lineup, the Golden Animals push harmonious vocals, resonant guitar work, and rhythmic, abating percussion to their fullest potential. Somewhat comparable to the contemporaneous blues-garage rock duo The Black Keys, the Golden Animals generate heavy, dimensional soundscapes in concise, hallucinogenic, and good old-fashioned rock tunes.
The album opens with the echoing “All Your Life,” a transportive 60s-style rocker that rides a mystic, distorted riff before the psychedelic unraveling of its finale. Complete with a mind-bending music video — which weaves a tapestry of the silhouetted band, almost transparent in emanating orbs of arid sunlight — “All Your Life” kicks off “Hear I Go” like a highway car on a dead stretch toward the horizon. Though this single has been around for a few years, completing the album took major effort from the band.
In 2011, the Golden Animals designed a successful month-long Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,000 for the recording, mixing, and mastering of their new music. The years passed, and after the band tossed a full LP recorded in a California cabin, they trekked to Vacation Island Recordings in Brooklyn to finish what they started. After a long wait, the Reverberation Appreciation Society seemed to rescue “Hear Eye Go” from its perpetually pushed-back release date.
The completed product stands as a trans-American creation — “Hear Eye Go“ finds a brooding middle ground between the dichotomous locations of the bustling, modern city and the sun-soaked, shrubbery-laden desert.
The Doors are influential on tracks such as “Most My Time,” a dark, deconstructed piece baring the ethos of “When the Music’s Over” cut down to the core. Dripping with phantasmal reverberation, a heavy descending beat, and the dark yelps of Beecroft, the song speaks to the seclusion and comfort of the night.
Alternately, the track “Never Was Her Name” seems to be induced by the Doors’ album “Waiting for the Sun,” more so than “Strange Days.” Melding the affectionate sentiments of “Love Street” with the youthful tragedy of “Summer’s Almost Gone,” Eisner repeatedly intones, “Never was her name / she’d rise and fall… Forever was her game / She’d roll and stall.”
“The Letter” is another standout psych track. On a throwback slow-walking groove, the song recalls a cool, hallucinogenic interpretation of the riffs from the Black Angels’ song “Bad Vibrations.” Finely tuned by Beecroft’s incorporeal backing vocals, “The Letter” elicits the quality of a hazy underground club illuminated only by the innocuous rotation of a liquid light show.
The other music video from the album is the close-to-Earth pilgrimage of “You Don’t Hear Me Now,” an anthemic, floating piece that seems to capture the approach of “Hear Eye Go” in a 3-minute span. Eisner echoes on a remote paradox to the listener, “You think you know / But you don’t hear me now / Even though the waves of dust / turn the sky to brown.”
“The Same Road” begins on an uplifting, affable beat, followed by Beecroft harmonizing like a Nico flower child, carrying the tune into its second act. As the drone deepens and the energy rises, Eisner sings his strongest lyrics and reflects the homophonous album title,“Now before you land you must learn to fall / With your time like smoke in a crystal ball… In your eyes / Here I go.”
At a run-time of 33 minutes, “Hear Eye Go” has little room for fillers. “Tender Hearts,” a moonlit love song, is the longest cut, clocking in at only 3:34. “Save Your Love” and “Tell Me” are also testaments to the recording potential in the Golden Animals’ modest set-up. Eisner appeals, “Whatever sets you free / Whatever lets you be / Tell me” — Each song is gratifyingly composed, suggesting the themes of independence and human devotion. The album’s final track, “Sun Moon Star,” demonstrates pop-influenced instrumentation, coming off like a ghoulish surf rock cut from Link Wray or the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.
The Golden Animals have lost none of their flair for hippie cowboy drama or bleary-eyed mystery, but unlike their earlier release, “Hear Eye Go” is more polished and more vibrant — it has more pinpoint focus and tells a story of road-traveled maturation.