The Kundalini Genie have been around for less than a decade, but ‘False Highs, True Lows’ is already their sixth album, though first for Last Night in Glasgow. The band started as the outlet of multi-instrumentalist Robbie Wilson, but have grown into a fully fledged group, making a reputation as purveyors of the fuzziest of psychedelic pop-rock.
When it was just Wilson on his own KG took their cues from the distorted shoegaze of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the zanier elements of Captain Beefheart, but more melody and hooks have been introduced over the years as the band’s skills have developed. There’s more texture and nuance, but also occasionally a little less oomph than you feel Wilson may’ve added back in the day.
Melissa Rennie leads the vocals early on and the opening song, ‘Anything, Anymore’, is the best of what the band is all about now. There’s a gentle, Mazzy Star-esque feel, building and building as the the only line – “I don’t feel anything anymore, anymore…” – is repeated while the guitars start to swirl, the drums tick and the slow-burn explosion comes to life. ‘The Choice Not To Decide’ also has a wonderful bit of bombast to it, almost gothic in its pounding drums and reverb.
However, once ‘False Highs’ rolls around and Robbie Wilson takes over vocals there’s a strong Britpop sound, particularly Oasis, in its melody seemingly “inspired” by ‘Don’t Go Away’ and lyrics like “falling apart at the seams/ don’t even know what it means.” ‘Divinity’s Playing Card Name’ suffers from similar cribbing, though the shoegaze guitar goes some way to redeem it.
The peaceful arrangement of ‘From Now Until Then’ feels like a better fit to their strengths, and ‘All The Clouds and Silver Linings’, with its crunchy drums and faraway glockenspiel, has enough variety to show they’re still musically curious. Still very much ’60s-inspired, but more in the psychedelic mould of The Zombies or ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’-era Beatles.
As long as they maintain this exploratory bent The Kundalini Genie are sure to keep making great jams, even if there’s going to be a few duds along the way.