With such a tripped-out name drawing focus, the new Acid Baby Jesus album, Lilac Days, released on Fuzz Club Records, has a lot to live up to. These Greek garage rockers have been championed highly in the international scene, being less concerned with the spiritual and tripped-out realms that their name foreshadows but instead invested in creating unadulterated garage-rock hedonism.
Formed in 2009 in the backstreets of Athens, the four-piece have two previous records under their belt and now after a three-year absence are back. Lilac Days proffers frantic garage rock enthused with western style psychedelic pop, with elements of Eastern folk and a sprinkling of fuzzy rock’n’roll.
The album titled opener wastes no time in marking its intent, with its sound coming straight from West Coast California, channelling traditional vibes which would have been at home on the Nuggets collection. Moving on to ‘Faces of Janus’, a more mellow track than its predecessor with all the sway and swagger you’d expect from a band who are accomplished musicians, playing with musical elements and boundaries. ‘No Such Thing as Twice’ sees the Eastern elements creep in through brass elements, whilst maintaining the raw edge loved by garage rock aficionados. The short track is over all too soon, but ‘Down the Ley Lines’ is waiting in the wings, with its haunting, twinkling melody and catchy countenance.
‘Me & Panormita’ harvests the finest scuzzy garage rock vibes, whilst maintaining a bouncy temperament throughout. The simplicity of the elements harks back to early Rolling Stones, showing that sometimes music doesn’t have to be complex to sound fantastic. ‘Birth’ features a scratchy, noisy string opening before giving way to a lullaby-esq melody which enchants and mesmerises. Lead single ‘Guide Us In’ uses pacey guitars and vocal harmonies in layers to build the song and the fast tempo creates a racing effect, as if the musical elements were competing. ‘Vile Man’ would be at home in the 60s, with its analogue sound and piano element placing it firmly amongst the greats of the era.
The best is saved until last in the form of ‘Love Has Left My House Today’; its hazy vocals, provocative rhythm section and luring guitar set the scene before the empowered chorus rings out taking a firm grasp to reaffirm the point. The way the lyrics are almost chanted is eerily reminiscent of that being employed by bands such as Mystic Braves, and that is certainly a band that comes to mind when listening to this album, which cannot be a bad thing. A surf sound echoes throughout and again sends the listener back to the Californian coastline.
They may have been M.I.A. for three years, but in Lilac Days they have created an album which shows the band at their finest, with sophisticated song writing and perfect musical execution. A lot of bands are trying and failing to reproduce a 60s garage, surf sound fused with psychedelia, and failing. Acid Baby Jesus are not one them.