Psychedelic Horseshit produced skeptics of its legitimacy ever since it coined the very term for its own genre—“shitgaze.” But the Columbus, OH, band managed to surprise us and produce Laced, an album that stands out despite its use of the insanely popular “lo-fi” recording trend.
It can be frustrating to listen to something recorded on 40-year-old reel tape in order to manufacture a specific “artistic vibe.” Mostly, this newfangled rebellion from modern technological advances in sound recording can be more irritating than enlightening. More often than not, the end result sounds like a careless mash-up of mediocre guitar riffs and screeched vocals with the rest just lost in translation. Other lo-fi bands struggle to make coherent albums, usually using the lo-fi technique to lend their music a “vintage” quality to give the illusion of originality. Psychedelic Horseshit, on the other hand, has managed to create a full-length album where every song sounds different and polished.
Laced uses lo-fi recording to enhance the group’s sound as opposed to masking it. This is something band members Matt Whitehurst and Rich Johnston will be glad to hear. The pair is known to shower criticism on fellow shitgaze peers for creating generic, copycat, well, shit.
Shit, Laced is not. The debut album is a testament to Psychedelic Horseshit’s incredible versatility. Songs like “Tropical Vision” and “Laced” use hand drums that lend an offbeat, African-tinge to the percussion. This departure from the traditional rock time signature provides a much-needed balance to the dreamy synth-heavy ballads like “Automatic Writing” and “Puff.” Laced is also sprinkled with poppy tunes like “French Countryside” and “Making Out,” which upon hearing once are certainly going to be stuck in your head the rest of the week.
Whitehurst and Johnston clearly have the ear to use lo-fi recording to their advantage. The album that materialized at the other end of some decade-old sonic-amplified distortion is a clean, clear, dreamy romp through psychedelic pop.