Psych without the bling

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“Scarlet Fever” is the title of the Green Seagulls debut album and as far as I am concerned, it is one of this year’s key releases in the crowded neo-psychedelic genre.

Formed by Paul Nelson from New Electric Ride and Paul Milne of Hidden Masters and Magnetic Mind fame, the band rush-released two mesmerising singles last year. The single tracks are all included here together with ten new cuts that are equally good. (Just as the albums of those previous bands were by the way – albums that you must seek out if you don’t already have them!)

Although “Scarlet Fever” is a record that simply oozes 1967 from every beat, chord and vocal harmony, it manages to avoid the pitfalls that most other psychedelic time travellers seem to fall in.

First of all, although vintage instruments are very much the order of the day here, the production eschews the use of pepperisms such as backwards sounds and studio trickery.
Secondly, while the lyrics very much seem to reflect the naivety of the original era, they are nevertheless thankfully lacking in the cliche department; we are spared technicolour terminology and other types of too obvious and worn-out psychedelic baggage.

But while abstaining from all the kaleidoscopic stylings, the band instead revel in a knowledge of late 60s music that is kaleidoscopic indeed.
From the Mamas & the Papas to the good old Beatles, it is all here. Just without the bling-bling.

This quieter and more measured approach is instead built on a reliance on very strong songwriting skills and an almost reductionistic baroque pop sound. In that sense they are probably more comparable to a band like Honeybus than the current crop of 60s-influenced bands.
Yet by honing in on the elemental compositional structures of the era, the Green Seagulls are actually making a kind of encyclopaedic pop that can only exist now that we can cross-reference every single chord sequence and note online in a second.

And herein lies the magic. This is music that is simultaneously locked into the past and the future. A portal that can take you anywhere.

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