Madcap Romans Fvzz Popvli really mix it up on this new album Magna Fvzz. Lurching about like a drunk at closing time, they never settle for too long on one style or mood, despite broadly always staying true to fuzz rock tropes. Opening track Let it Die melds acid rock riffage to jazzy lead playing, and whilst second track Napoleon follows roughly the same path it sounds absolutely nothing like its predecessor. This is a good thing, surely?
The sometimes slightly disconnected vocals give a weirdly demented air to proceedings – at times it’s sounds like Ozzy Osbourne is in the room next door to the band absent-mindedly singing along – and this overall feeling is ramped up by the fact that the band is never afraid to try and shoehorn a ton of seemingly disparate ideas into any given song.
Third track The Deal sounds like the result of a drug deal on Ladbroke Grove turned sour – it’s the aural equivalent of some particularly dirty speed – with psyche references like the Pink Fairies, Steve Hillage and Hawkwind forcing themselves into the centre of your mind’s ear with no little rudeness and scant disregard for the listener’s wellbeing. Can you tell I’m lapping this stuff up?
The band examine their inner Barrett on the excellent Get Me, but of course they can’t just leave the one influence to play on it’s own in a song, so they swamp the whole thing with some very Detroit-influenced distorted guitars to mix things up a bit. It’s not wholly successful – but it’s a damn sight more interesting to listen to than most modern heavy rock, let me tell you. The madness continues with the phaser-rich Rvmpletum, which reprises the glorious post punk pomp of PIL before losing a little focus, whilst penultimate track Cherry Bowl is a full-force space rocker, full of simplistic yet effective riffing, whooshing noises and another supremely disturbed vocal performance.
Final track Magna Fvzz is a suitably nutzoid space rock epic, weighing in at nearly twelve and a half minutes and containing just about every sci-fi metal device you could hope to hear. It’s a bit much for my ears, but I can appreciate how, lying on your back in a darkened room under the influence of one or more mind-expanding agents, and feeling threatened by the ever oppressive throb of the lava lamps, you might get full value out of the track.
All told, then, something of an enjoyable romp – derivative, yes, but not annoyingly so. Worth a punt if you like any of the band names I’ve dropped in the review!
Magna Fvzz is out now.