“It’s heavy, it’s chill,” cries the Twitter gambit from Whammy Jar Elixers, and it’s a description that is especially apposite when listening to their debut EP. At some points soothing, at others striking, their self-titled record runs the whole gamut, covering ground that’s steeped in psychedelica, ‘60s refrains and traditional jangle pop.
At seven tracks long, Whammy Jar Elixers does run the risk of falling into a self-indulgent stupor, but luckily there’s enough variation here to keep the interest levels high. Despite reading like Mick Jagger’s shopping list, the tracklisting is strong, short and snappy, a contrast to the songs themselves, which often run past the five-minute mark, and allow for creativity and growth.
Recorded in their flat, the lo-fi thrums certainly add the songs, particularly opener ‘Tea’, which changes tack from a lilting, Beach House-esque riff into a furious crescendo of mutant drums, a reverb-laden guitar coda and some florid bass work. On the more eerie ‘1968’, a Parisian jangle is matched with an atmospheric Interpol coda as the singer does his best Bobby Gillespie drawl.
‘Coffee’ and ‘Cigarettes’ are as perfectly matched on the EP as they are in real life, both built on sturdy snares, moaning guitars and a ‘60s-inflected sensibility, the latter borrowing Parquet Courts’ brand of lo-fi lamenting and ending in a furious flurry of haze. The 10-minute closer ‘Strange’ begins with a wall of spiky, Maccabees-style guitar squalls before dissolving into a Dandy Warhols-esque dirge of feedback and loops, concluding in a mesh that mixes MBV-indebted guitar trickery with a drum beat straight from a 1992 rave. Strange by name…
Whammy Jar Elixers’ debut may be long, but like anything that requires studious listening, the end rewards are great. Just keep the cigarettes stocked up throughout, you’ll need them.