Riding Easy Records are at it again. Emptying the murky bong water into the ears of the world. On this occasion it is the third coming of Austin three piece The Well. “Death and Consolation” is the follow up to 2016’s Pagan Science and sees Lisa Alley, Ian Graham and Jason Sullivan in a maudlin but groovy frame of mind. The band have said that this album was born from a dark place and early post punk influences and have stated that it’s “almost more gothic”. Now, as an old goff I can hear a little crimping influence on the tracks – the echoes at the start of Death Song take me straight back to Bela Lugosi’s Dead but the heart of the album is dark psyche doom. Which is a stroke of luck coz that sounds pretty good to me.
Opener “Saba” starts with a classic stoner riff and offers the kind of retro groove and backseat vocals that Pagan Science had. So far so groovy. “Raven” kicks off with the kind of riff that Ian Astbury likes to wail over. A little something to shake what your mother gave ya to. The tiniest introduction of keys (I think its keys) breathes even more 70’s swagger into the songs loon pants before it ends in a meltdown. Far out!
The aforementioned “Death Song” is a sombre affair but without enough moodiness or gravitas. Just a soupcon more gloom or grandeur could have made the shadows pop. Slightly pedestrian.
Not so “The Eyes of Fingers” which fuzzes along before unleashing a dirty Pornography era Bob Smith guitar solo. Delightful Carnage (visors). Bass , drums and guitars meld into a fucked up cacophony making way for the ubiquitous movie clip that heralds Eyes of God.
The rig it rides along sounds like it has jumped straight out of the Uncle Acid playbook by way of Robert Plant. But hey it grooves and there is cowbell so I am game.
Then as another clip erupts from my speakers The Well shift up a gear. Act II is apt as things take an Electric Kool Aid shot to the arm. A riff of tsunami proportions washes over this track and the groove? This is the kind of one that Lee Dorian was asking us to feel. Noise keeps building the riff endures as Ian Graham tells the tale of patience and longing of the undead. There is a break that creates some wicked drama and an acid drenched wig out too. All the fun of the country fayre!
“Freedom Above” slows things down with Lisa Alley’s bass dropping the fuzz in favour of some delightfully warm depths. “Weightless weapons leave less scars”. It’s time to leave this atmosphere and head to the nebula. “Please don’t take this high away”. This is a creepy trip not sure if The Well are enjoying or enduring this one but it’s a stellar journey.
“This is How” conjures up an image of Krug from Last House on the Left. This is a dark trip down a dark path in a world that has gone to shit and The Well are the house band still playing as we all smoulder.
All of the tracks on “Death and Consolation” lead inevitably to “Endless Night” a woeful (in a positive way) swansong. Like the rest of the album this track sounds raw and live. The bells that toll resonate through the space rock sections and big drum sound before ending in a squall of guitars.
The Well have produced a dark and feisty slice of retro psyche that has plenty of devilment in its tie dye folds.
(8/10 Matt Mason)