North Country Psychic Girls is the first LP by local band Pang Attack (comprised of David Clark on bass and keys, Yann Geoffrey on drums, and Alex Hackett on guitar and vocals). The title’s ambiguity perpetuates a fuzziness that is befitting to the album’s overall sound. For roughly 35 minutes, the album spawns a dynamic dream sequence that captivates the listener despite its incongruity. Although bound by the common thread of shoegaze and psych-pop, each track distinguishes itself from the rest by placing the listener in a different setting. In other words, the band escorts the listener on a trip through a boundless mind (as pictured on the album’s cover) with each song acting as a different turn on the way.
The journey commences in “Monk Song” with a synth-based opening akin to 1960s spaceship noises. In seconds the semi-galactic beat transforms into a twangy tune laden with spaghetti western undertones. In a matter of minutes, we, the listeners, are swept up from wandering through a desert on horseback and reeled into “Stranger’s Song” where the trio, now accompanied by Erik Hove on sax and the Kate Maloney String Quartet, devise a sound reminiscent of The Smiths. Hackett’s voice, although not as whiny as Morrissey’s, harnesses a similar charisma which he maintains throughout the album. Soon another turn is made with “Frailty Revisited” where we’re drawn into a dimly lit room for a lovesick slow dance while cradled by an understated instrumental. Nonetheless, when this contemplative soirée comes to a close, we’re met by the haunting “Invaded Heart” bearing similarities in both sound and poetics to Billy Bragg and Wilco’s “Blood of the Lamb.” Then, with the summoning of trumpets, we’re consumed by the whimsical “North Country Psychic Girl.” In this dream pop gem, Hackett’s magnetic Moz-esque voice reveals nuances of that of Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner. With another sudden shift, Pang Attack plunge into “Mr. Mandible” where they foster a more recognizable blend of indie rock, channeling the likes of Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs. However, once the rendezvous with “Mr. Mandible” is complete, we’re beckoned by the melancholic “Hope Nights” to a lovelorn dive alike the one in “Frailty Revisited.” Here we’re entranced by a melody remindful of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.” Although most likely a far stretch, the Pink Floyd reference acts as a sort of prelude to the finishing track “Time and Dementia.” Enveloped by a fuzzy calm, we wake up from our trance and digest the hypnotic journey until we’re shown to the exit by dissonant synths and strings.
Clark, Geoffrey, and Hackett, with the help of numerous contributors, conceived an album both labyrinthine in design and nostalgic in sound. Due to the album’s complexity and variability, each track elicits a unique palette of emotions and conjures an entirely different spectrum of thoughts. Therefore, if one hankers a trip down the rabbit hole of sentimental bizarreness, then a listen to Pang Attack’s North Country Psychic Girls is recommended.
– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara