Album Reviews


Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

Artist:     Pugwash

Album:     Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

Label:     Omnivore

Release Date:     09/04/2015


A decade and a half after debut LP Almond Tea, Irish psychedelic pop rock band Pugwash is putting out their sixth disc. Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) takes its cues from older ’60s pop, yet incorporates ’70s-era, tripped-out segments over slow, steady rhythms. Think the harmonies of the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man” mixed with the general vibes of “Norwegian Wood” minus the sitar. Instead of jamming to upbeat, heavy pop, this disc offers a toned-down, smooth experience. It’s an unwinding hallucination; floating on a cloud; your pupils dilating; slow-motion running through a field.

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this album, but there is an incorporation of interesting genre influences, like elevator-music-meets-slow-dance “Clouds” or the subtle country jamboree instrumentals of “You Could Always Cry.” All fall under the umbrella of slow-wave psychedelic.

“Kicking and Screaming” offers slightly intoxicated rock guitar, with lethargic drumbeats echoing a mental spaciness. “Lucky in Every Way” romances, while “Feed His Heart with Coal” escapes to wistful country lanes, weather vanes and steaming locomotives. You can see the trains passing by through half-speed eyes as the repetitive guitar riff is broken up with a simplistic yet startling dreamy interim. “Clouds” uses saxophone, a soft rumba rhythm, hazy harmonies, and spaceship synth episodes to emulate a trip. It takes us back to “Strawberry Fields,” but with a light Latin jazz flare as opposed to raga rock leaning. “You Could Always Cry” livens things up before “Silly Love” mixes a whimsical beat with high harmonies and organ solos. “Oh Happy Days” has an instrumental twang, while “All the Way from Love” tries to float away, yet hangs onto memories. Final track “We Are Everywhere” boasts conquistador horn wails before descending into distant, suspended vocals that ascend into discordant guitar noise.

—Kalyn Oyer

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