The Holydrug Couple
[Sacred Bones, 2013]
Andrew Richardson, February 8, 2013
Listen: “Counting Sailboats”
The sad thing about Noctuary is that it was released on the same day as Föllakzoid’s II. Sad because it’s going to get overlooked in a “Holy shit! Have you heard the new Föllakzoid record?” sort of way. It’s fitting given that both bands share Ives Sepúlveda and even more importantly, a city (Santiago, Chile). The comparisons stop there though. Föllakzoid go in a more motorik direction, while The Holydrug Couple takes a breezy, beachier approach.
Where 2009’s Awe is the best hangover record of the past forty six years (nudged out by side two of Velvet Underground and Nico), it did have its flaws. It was slick, too slick, by a lot of standards. There wasn’t room to wander. The duo (made up of Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra) decided that no one could capture their sound the way they wanted. Noctuary became a home recording lasting four months and engineered by Sepúlveda. What was produced ended up being a stunning album of dreamy psych-pop, reverb and repetition-ridden songs. It’s beachy, it’s trippy, and man, is it groovy.
Spearheaded by the tracks “Counting Sailboats” and “Sailor,” the album already starts taking shape. Getting lost is the priority. Cast adrift in the repeating sound and almost make-shift harmonies created between Sepúlveda’s vocals and echoing guitar.
The heart of this album comes halfway through with the almost eight-minute track, “Out Of Sight.” Sun-kissed and drenched in spirit, the song rolls back and forth between the quiet and blustering, almost cresting before fading away seamlessly into the next song. Noctuary is full of hidden gems like this, almost surprising as it clocks in at just under forty minutes. The hypnotizing, warped wubble of “Willoweed” blends into “Paisley.” The final song, the aptly named, “It’s Dawning” has more of an Appalachia-come-California feel to it. Had Love tried to write “Gideon”, it would have come out sounding like this. Soaring falsetto vocals laid atop some picking-and-grinning psychedelics.
Compared to The Holydrug Couple’s past releases, this is a bar fight as opposed to a boxing match. It’s not as slick or overproduced as the previous endeavors. It just feels like a Sacred Bones release. Noisy, punk, and full of energy.