“Come take a chance with me / The less that we know, the better we’ll be,” Battlehooch sings as a suitable invitation to their new EP Wink. It’s quite true too: the less that, you, the listener knows about the warped synth sounds, guitar freakouts and dreamy vocal melodies, the more you’ll be surprised and enchanted by the group’s unique blend of mind-melting psychedelia and palatable garage pop. However, even if one does futilely attempt to describe the music of Battlehooch to an outsider, there’s no substantially adept way to adequately translate their strange sonic structures into adjectives known in the English language. To use an archaic expression, this stuff is pretty “far out.”
Take “Daylight In Space” as a prime example – the song utilizes so many varied guitar effects, drum patterns and keyboard wizardry, creating an effectively dense layering of conflicting rhythms and melodies, it would behoove any self-described ‘music critic’ to accurately convey the sense of wonder that grabs hold of the listener upon first hearing it. This one takes a few headphone excursions, at the very least, to deconstruct every surreal idiosyncrasy hidden in the tune, from the chunky bass line to the spiraling death squeals of the guitar highlighting the song’s climax.
Not every track is so entirely drenched in tie-dye weirdness though. “Carry Me Upstream” is a relatively straightforward rocker full of catchy guitar riffs and a hummable chorus melody; “Sea Shapes” is the haunting ballad-like composition concluding the EP on a meditative note; and “Octo,” while containing it own eccentric sounds, is pure pop at its heart.
The moment of clarity comes near the EP’s end on “Taking Kate For A Drive” when they sing, “We’re seldom left alone / With time to call our own / We’re seldom free to roam / Always feeling stuck in something…” A reflective, lucid look at the hectic nature of modernity, the song is a call to slow down and explore the everyday, to focus less on the future and more on the present moment. That’s exactly the kind of attitude needed to truly enjoy the music of Battlehooch, to savor all the intricacies of their sound that rewards listeners for commitment and attention to detail. The band may be influenced in style by ’60s psychedelic pop, but is in their attempts to craft complex albums that makes them decidedly old-school in many ways. Instead of the quickly consumable, Battlehooch opts for the slowly digestible. Instead of songs that can be dissected within the length of a Tweet, they choose a style that can only be fully scrutinized with repeated listens. They are neither stuck in the past nor eternally looking towards the future. Battlehooch is a band completely comfortable being just who they are – a band of the present.