Heads on Sticks
Phantasm in Tutu
Raleigh band Heads on Sticks’ latest, Phantasm in Tutu, is quite possibly its best effort yet. Going along with its nonsensical title, this new record is a bizarre collection of eight unconventional, psychedelic tracks.
After a middling start, “Answer Jam” arrives with haunting chants and a darker, rhythmic pulse. The track is addictive, particularly due to a multitude of horns sparring against an electric guitar solo halfway through.
Another highlight is “White Wolf,” essentially the band’s eccentric interpretation of a rock ballad. Electronic keys pervade the track, as does a harmonica, an inspired touch that elevates the entire instrumentation.
Similarly, the beginning of “I Can Get Back,” which includes an ominous electric piano, is eerily hypnotic. Despite the chorus being sung several times, the song never gets tiresome, featuring a breakdown of harmonizing and instrumental solos at the end.
Some of the more peculiar attempts are not as successful. “The Keep,” bandleader David Mueller employs an awkward style of singing which fluctuates between lowering and raising his voice. Further, it seems to drag, with random interludes between each verse adding nothing.
With the stripped-down “Green Patina,” Phantasm in Tutu ends on a high note. The song eschews the ethereal psychedelia of earlier tracks in favor of a more natural, hard rock sound, ultimately a satisfying deviation.
Following much smaller releases in the past three years, Phantasm in Tutu could be a breakthrough for the group. Tight and concise, melodic and groovy, Heads on Sticks has crafted a wonderfully poppy album that is primed to earn new fans.
— Mac Gushanas
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