Wooden Shjips ‘Back To Land’ – Album Review

Have Wooden Shjips have finally made the psychedelic rock album which will ultimately lift the mysterious veil that clouds them from the public eye?

American psychedelic space rock may create some bemused looks when asked what kind of music you’re into. Comparing a band to the iconic Doors and Velvet Underground could be obscene in many eyes. But once you’ve took the time out to discover Wooden Shjips, you’ll understand what the mystifying hype surrounding the underground rockers is all about.

The new 8-track LP ‘Back to Land’ is stuffed to the brim with influence and exhilaration.  The opening album-titled track rips through the air with a strong sophistication and haunting lyrics from lead singer, Erik Johnson. The track sets the scene for where this album stands – on an open road, in a league of no other, with vivid images of the wind through your hair as you ride the open highway on the back of your Harley. The track speaks of flying: freedom.

The album continues in this state for track ‘Ruins’, with a bold brass rhythm cutting the track with sheer elegance. The droning lyricist keeps a steady pace, as synthesised spacey-rock is incorporated making this one of the more stimulating tracks on the rocker’s fifth studio LP.

The LP seems to ride along the same road through track three ‘Ghouls’ and track four ‘These Shadows’, bringing more mottled vocals and harmonising rhythm to the pounding drum beat. For a lot of bands, repeated beats and sounds are usually a recipe for destruction – but Wooden Shjips seem to pull off this style effortlessly with sophistication so strong, it’s unbelievable to think why so many music listeners haven’t stumbled across this band yet.

The climax really kicks in on track six, which seems to be a more toned-down-black-and-white inspiration from the fluorescent Stone Roses’ ‘One Love’. The under-layers of rumbling guitars compliment the rocky edge of the tambourine, which is incorporated slowly throughout the song. This ends dramatically through fading out into the spacey unknown. Easily the most pleasurable song Wooden Shjips have this album, and proves they’re more than capable of finally setting sail in the UK’s mainstream.

There’s something about the echoing voice of Johnson throughout the album, but especially on the penultimate and last track of the album ‘Servants’ and ‘Everybody Knows’. Penned lyrics which are difficult to decipher haven’t even aired on lyrical genius websites. This in itself makes the picture in which Wooden Shijps have painted, more beautiful. The lyrics blossom and bloom through confused anatomy and really get the listener interoperating the message of the song themselves. Not many bands have created an album so weirdly obscure that anybody can pick it up and fix the missing jigsaw pieces together themselves.

Overall, this LP is a massive step-up from ‘West’. If you don’t know much about psychedelic space-pop then seriously there’s no need to look further. The baffling world of Wooden Shijps invites you in with open arms and voices. ‘Back To Land’ is an album which will propel not only your own musical horizons, but the shrouded band finally into the limelight. Just watch this space.

Ella Scott

Ella Scott

Ella Scott

Gigslutz Editor, token Geordie and Blur fangirl. Naturally, achieving Vicky Pattinson's VIP edge is what drives me to get up in the morning.