March 5, 2009

Test Spin: Megapuss

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Deftly merging exotic instrumentation with cascading waves of lyrical audacity, Devendra Banhart hatches Surfing, the debut album of his anticipated project, Megapuss. Collaborating with multi-instrumentalist Greg Rogove and Neil Young’s label Vapor Records, the Prince of Psych Folk chases Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon with his sixth LP in as many years. Bizarrely titled leadoff track “Crop Circle Jerk ’94” showcases Devendra’s velvety warble (“You know I used to see fire in the sky, now I see rainbows”) atop a precise, titillating Stratocaster.
The triumphantly anthemic “Theme From Hollywood” is a seaside stroll, with psychedelic synthesizer oozing through the cracks. Surreal finger-picking captures the traces of consciousness, and, as with the pied piper, we follow the minstrel. Anchoring the album’s second half, hypnotizing chorus and alluring melody collide with wit and dramatic imagery in energetic “Hamman.” Throughout this shape-shifting LP, communal clapping gives way to bilingual lullabies, archaic radio transmissions complement skittering piano and collisions of percussion frame the echoing ravine of Devendra’s penetrating vibrato. With each track exploring some obscure dimension of our own psyche, the 14 vignettes on Megapuss’s Surfing coalesce as a decade-hopping, multicultural romp.