The clown in question is, of course, Jay Watson, better known as a member of both Tame Impala and Pond. This is his first solo album and yes, I know it’s been available digitally for a month or so, but it’s about to be released physically, so here is my review. (Spinning Top music are currently taking preorders for a limited vinyl run of the album, as one leg of an acid-soaked psych tripod of releases, the others being Pond bandmate Shiny Joe Ryan’s & the Cosmic Microwave Background, and the long-awaited release of Mink Mussel Creek’s Mink Mussel Manticore).
Sound-wise, you could say that Delorean Highway is in the same ballpark as Gum’s two bands. It’s trippy, layered dreamy space-pop that definitely isn’t dissimilar to some of the tunes on Tame’s Lonerism, or to a few Pond tracks like ‘Sorry I Was Under the Sky’ from Beard, Wives, Denim. The difference lies in the synth sounds (and the delay. so much delay) on most of the tracks….they’re like….’80s sounding….but at the same time not really ’80s sounding because the the songs themselves owe a great deal more to ’60s psychedelic pop, ’70s prog (Gum even covers Genesis’ ‘Misunderstanding’; and quite well I might add) and to shoegazey, wall-of-sound stuff, than they do to bands like New Order.
A few of the songs on here have been kicking around for a while – we first heard the dreamy freakout title track back in 2012, and the great ‘Growin’ Up’, which is probably my favourite track on Delorean Highway, was released on Soundcloud earlier this year. ’21st Century Radiation’ and ‘The Sky Opened Up’ are both upbeat, 60s’ garage-sounding (and kinda Pond-sounding) tracks, and the latter leads in well to the aforementioned Genesis cover, which when given the Gum treatment fits very coherently with the rest of the album. After that tune I had to sit through an ad about bartending in Europe or something, featuring a really bad fake British accent….and of course Spotify MADE me listen to the ad….dicks.
‘Summer Rain’ is far more sombre than anything else I’ve heard from Gum’s other bands and is another standout, and ‘Pink Skies’ reminds me a little bit (in a good way) of forgotten ’90s shoegazers Ride. Speaking of shoegaze, the penultimate track ‘Day of the Triffids’, an instrumental, in all its backwards glory, wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on My Bloody Valentine’s M B V.
Very solid album.
If you like: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard….and any of Jay Watson’s other projects.
Best tracks: ‘Delorean Highway’, ‘Growin’ Up’, ‘Summer Rain’.