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Psychic Lemon – Freak Mammal (2019)

When the Captain first tipped me off to Psychic Lemon’s album Freak Mammal, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I’m not the psych expert here on Starship Crispy, but I’m always game for exploring new terrain. Sure enough—about five minutes into listening to this spaced-out masterpiece, I was hooked. Psychic Lemon is officially one of my new favourite bands, and I’m here to tell you why.

 Released in 2019, Freak Mammal is the third studio release from this UK space-rock outfit from Cambridge. Following in the footsteps of bands like Hawkwind, Goat, and Amon Düül II, Psychic Lemon is expanding the horizons of psych rock with their pure yet subtly experimental sound. Some critics are even calling them the best psych band they’ve ever heard, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why once you start listening to Freak Mammal. Throughout the entire first song, I was on the edge of my seat (which is saying a lot considering the song is over 10-minutes long). I had already gotten 7 minutes in before I even realized it’s a long-form track.

From the album’s first synthetized, heartbeat-like notes to its final explosive chords, the suspense and excitement never wane. “Dark Matter” ropes you in with its driving guitar and drums that continue to propel the album forward on every track. “Seeds of Tranquillity,” the album’s longest at over 13 minutes, introduces that specific psych sound that makes you feel like you’re wandering through a scorching hot desert in search of a vision. Its primal drums and bass mixed with spacey, ethereal synth and guitar create the perfect blend of earthen and celestial. As the album barrels forward, the energy continues to build. “Afrotropic Bomb” picks up the pace and the noise, bursting with energy and driven by rhythms and percussion that I can only assume are rooted in the band’s professed love of West African music. The song could easily serve as the accompanying track for a transcendental outburst of ecstatic dance.

The album’s fourth track, “Free Electron Collective,” continues to drive the energy forward. Addictive from the start, the track launches into an immaculately spastic drum beat and a perfectly simple repeating guitar riff before exploding into a borderline-funky space jam in overdrive, complete with a groove-heavy bassline. Considering the song’s title, it all fits. In fact, the album is dedicated to Stephen Hawking and contains references to astrophysics in its song titles (“Dark Matter,” “Free Electron Collective”). I’d venture to guess that the guys of Psychic Lemon are intentionally playing with the idea of energy, how it builds, how it disperses, and how we, as humans, can manipulate it.

If I’m anywhere near the mark, I’d say Freak Mammal absolutely succeeds in its experimentation and serves as a brutal-in-the-best-way ode to the power of psych rock, creative genius, and the human mind. 10/10, if you ask me. Now go grab your headphones and listen for yourself. I’ll be lost in mine for a while.

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