US - Illinois - Full Moon 49 - 10/13/00
Liquid Sound Records
The debut album of this duo from the Chicago area has a really colourful sleeve of the
heaviest psychedelic tradition. The Virgineers' home page
is likewise. Song titles like Love Circus, Floating and Be My Guru, and
lyrics such as "Translucent armies of blue butterflies,
Fluttering under my bed" do not let us down either. There are well-known psychedelic effects
here, too: phasing, mellotron sounding keyboards, the odd sitar, backwards guitars etc. I expected
long spacey jams, psychedelic freak-outs or odd time signatures, but no. Most of the melodies are
relatively simple pop tunes. The Beatles from late 1965 to late 1967 was the first comparison to
cross my mind. The Fab Four's psychedelic period all right, but timeless pop music all the same.
Sun is the most obvious, both melody and production sounds like the natural successor to
George Harrison's Blue Jay Way. The Morning Moon is a sort of the Revolver
album condensed into one song. Not bad, not bad at all!
Floating and particularly Dr. Glouster aren't far from the beaten tracks of
another excellent British pop group XTC, closer to the "real" XTC than their psychedelic alter
ego The Dukes Of Stratosphear, that is. Places That I've Never Been, Plastic Man
and The Morning Moon are probably my personal favourites. Melancholic pop songs that are
hard to get out of the head once they've found their way in. Only two of the songs show
different directions. How Far Does Space Go? is what I'd expected from the album in the
first place, a space jam with gloomy keyboards, stints of guitars in all directions and echoed
sort of space whispers. There's even an answer to the question of the title (find out for
yourselves)! But the track only lasts five minutes, whereas half an hour would've been more
appropriate. The oddest moment of the album, though, is Be My Guru where The Virgineers
go glitter rock, a crossover between The Sweet and T. Rex! Maybe a homage to the late Marc
Bolan? Anyway, the closing track Diesel Train certainly includes a short homage to the
Beach Boys, a pet sound...
All in all, The Virgineers is an unexpected album. But for me who can't get enough of classic
melodic pop music, it was a pleasant surprise after all!
Copyright © 2000 JP