opinion byMICHAEL WOJTAS
Only a punk workhorse like Thee Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer would take an “indefinite hiatus” announcement as cue to release one of his tightest sets of songs yet. Recorded without most of his regular players, Drop is a slightly more sugary, embellished companion-piece to last year’s finely tuned Floating Coffin. In contrast to the album-to-album left turns of past efforts, Drop is primarily a distillation of strengths. But it’s also Thee Oh Sees’ most sonically varied album yet, with Dwyer himself handling most of the instrumentation (though a host of guests, including a sax-wielding Mikal Cronin, helped bring brass successfully into the fold).
Additionally, the fried electronics of Dwyer’s recent solo record Hubba Bubba — released a mere two months ago – seem to have embedded themselves in Drop’s DNA. “King’s Nose,” a regal LSD fairytale that sways and broods like White Album-era Lennon, gets a welcome dose of future shock via a glitchy mellotron loop, while cyberpunk paranoia seethes in the buzzing underbelly of “Penetrating Eye.” But these elements are still subservient to the organ that has always made Thee Oh Sees tick: Dwyer’s revivalist heart. Exemplary fuzz bombs like the title track and “Camera” are ‘60s-indebted throwbacks that, sans a little polish and focus, could have materialized on just about any prior Thee Oh Sees recording.
So while Drop may ultimately scan as stubborn classicism in a psych universe that’s already seen recent groundbreakers such as Tame Impala and Animal Collective, it’s evidence of just how good it can feel to offer progress a healthy fist in the jaw every so often. Whether the album is some kind of swansong or simply our first glimpse of Thee Oh See’s latest mutation, it stands as another half-hour of front-to-back garage bliss from one of the finest, most prolific Nuggets-schooled rockers around. B