Pink Skull – Psychic Welfare review

Pink Skull’s strengths lie in creating tripped-out jams that can stand alongside the best of psychedelica and house music. The band’s sound has so much in common with psychedelic powerhouse the Chemical Brothers that it’s uncanny. “Zing Zong,” from its 2008 release, Zeppelin 3, could be the spiritual twin to the Chemical Brothers’ “Lost in the K-Hole,” to give just one example. Julian Grefe and Justin Geller clearly know their stuff when it comes to being faithful to this branch of techno.

But Julian Grefe doesn’t possess the vocal range to bring an interesting new element to the third album. When his voice shows up in some of the tracks he sounds less like someone singing with real emotion and giving it all they’ve got and more like a bar patron on karaoke night staring intently at the screen so as not to miss any of the lines.

Psychic Welfare’s sound also differs greatly from that of Zeppelin 3. Whereas that album was truly a funky psychedelic odyssey, Psychic Welfare jumps ahead twenty years from ’60s experimentation to ’80s puff pop. My impression was of elements that could have been culled from movies like Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story, or a bounty of video games and cartoons from my childhood.

“Bee Nose(Put Yr Face On)” has been released as a single, but other tracks like “Mu,” the darkly-beautiful “Salamanders,” or the bizarrely-titled “Human Hair Disco,” are much stronger pieces. Also, the album hardly sticks around being a scant 33:17 in length.

Taken on its own merits, Psychic Welfare still has a lot going for it, but fans who appreciate the group more for its earlier work will find the album lacking.

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