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coverpic flag US - Illinois - Full Moon 49 - 10/13/00

The Virgineers
The Virgineers
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!

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