Getting booted out of the perpetually stoned but universally adored
Spiritualized might just have been the best thing that ever happened to
Sean Cook, Mike Mooney and Damon Reece. Given their walking
papers some time ago, the trio can now get down to the business of
making a proper rock ‘n roll record, as opposed to sitting around
listening to Jason Pierce (genius that he is) rant and rave about gospel
choirs, 5,000 piece orchestras and how Phil Spector was, in truth, a
Ironically, the group’s debut long-player boasts an affinity for the acid-fried
guitar freak-outs of which their former employer’s seminal Spacemen 3 outfit was
so fond. Production duties on The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of... were shared by Mooney
and Cook, resulting in a record that’s steeped in
psychedelic '60s grandeur, but utilizes every luxury a modern studio has
to offer. Imagine, if you will, The Creation, 13th Floor Elevators and
Bruce Haack allowed to run wild in Abbey Road studios for two weeks, and
you’ll have an insight into the Howl’s sound.
The band soaks songs like the epic "Carnival" and the surging "Sniff the
Glue" in barrels of pulsing, kaleidoscopic effects, then slide Funkadelic-like
grooves underneath them for good measure. The somber "Lonely
Roads" provides a brief respite, its delay- and tremolo-drenched
guitars augmented by Cook’s breathy vocals and howling, sci-fi sound
effects, creating a sullen, almost peaceful feel. Synths gurgle like a
swarm of killer bees to open the gargantuan "Sometimes", while "Planet X"
rides an extraterrestrial bossa nova groove into a hydroponic wasteland
filled with gnarly guitars, a pared-down clatter and winsome cello
flourishes. Having had enough of the soft stuff, the band closes the
proceedings with the synth-bedecked "The Jam that Ate Itself", in which
Cook insists, "I’m stranded here between fucked and insane
killing time till I gotta go," while dirt-encrusted riffs and manic drumming
(courtesy of all-but-forgotten percussionist Johnny Mattock) wail around
him. As album closers go, this is one of the nastiest parting shots you're likely to hear this year.
Freed of Spacemen and symphonies, the boys of Lupine Howl now look
set to wreak some real musical havoc -- not only on their former boss, but
on the rest of us as well. Play this one loud, and aim your speakers at the moon.