The theatrical intro to Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s latest album is not what you were expecting, as it eases you beautifully into the mystical workings of Anton Newcombe’s weird and wonderful world. It may have been 20 years since Newcombe graced us with some of the most vicious, thought provoking work of his career; but Third World Pyramid is up there with the best of it. It’s basically 40 minutes of strung out folk, swaying acoustic arpeggios with shoegazey undertones.
Don’t be fooled by ‘Don’t Get Lost”s juxtaposing title; It’s impossible not to get lost in its psychadellic, folky ensemble. The only thing keeping you grounded is the desolate muffles of Newcombe’s vocals scraping anxiously the dreamlike atmosphere of the track.
The whole album has a Jesus And Mary Chain circa Darklands feel to it. It’s full of musically uplifting moments accompanied by lyrical darkness and emotive vocals. It’s this contrast that makes this album in particular – along with some of the bands greatest work like Thank God For Mental Illness – so interesting. It forces you to step up as a listener and allow yourself to wander into every corner of this musical labyrinth.
Newcombe has always said that he’s heavily influenced by the Stones’ psychedelic phase, but Third World Pyramid seems to mirror The Beatles’ psychedelic stage more so; Especially the beautifully self-indulgent ‘Assignment Song’.
Instrumentals are always crucial parts to any BJM album – but even more so on Third World Pyramid. ‘Oh Bother’ teases us for an almost painful four minutes with a flirtatious bassline, rigid guitars and disorientated horns which see us anticipate its every move, making it the perfect bridge to title track, ‘Third World Pyramid’.
Newcombe’s fragile vocals in the final track have the same harrowing effect as Bowie’s vocals in ‘Lazarus’. In fact, the whole song has a Bowie/ELO feel to it. It’s shamelessly larger than life musically but the frail, almost desperate vocals draw the album to a close perfectly.
Third World Pyramid is out now via a recordings.