Richard in Your Mind
10 Track, LP (2011, Rice Is Nice)
Related: Richard In Your Mind.
It’s only natural to compare Richard in Your Mind’s third album to their second. Last year’s Australian Music Prize-nominated My Volcano was a swooning psych-pop opus that saw the Sydneysiders dreaming big. But where that album transported listeners to some colour-drenched island rainforest, this one blankets and immerses us entirely in itself. What else would you expect from a record centred around the almighty sun?
Much more of a unified mood piece than the plucky highs of My Volcano, SUN ramps up the synths and live drums (as opposed to programmed beats). It’s slower and milder, at times pursuing a different branch of psychedelia altogether. Just witness the opening single ‘Vision’, which intently mines a soupy thickness with drowsy synth warmth and a droning groove. Its quietly powerful drive continues into the raga-ish ‘Maybe When the Sun Comes Down’, dripping with dewy sounds.
A good deal of SUN is concerned with such amorphous creations. ‘Dimension’ is soggy and steeped in electronics, ‘New Morning’ has the floaty wash of ‘Comfortably Numb’-era Pink Floyd and the near-instrumental title track is appropriately cosmic. Defining the album’s thoughtful sky-gazing, those songs are mostly successful. But sitting fourth in the track listing, the murmured ‘Mountainhead’ dissipates the momentum that’s been nurtured before it. And the closing ‘Aplomb’ is nice enough as it drifts by, but it’s not the kind of song that holds our attention in a tight grip.
For that reason, the songs with more prominent guitar and vocals really stand out. With its childlike rhymes, blissful singing and requisite harmonica solo, ‘She Took the Sun Away’ reminds how the Elephant 6 bands of the ’90s re-imagined Beatles and Beach Boys grandeur from their modest four-tracks. (Like My Volcano, SUN was beautifully home-recorded.) It’s an unambitious little tune made palpably surreal, as is ‘Tear Filled Ocean’. With an acoustic guitar start echoing the Stones’ ‘As Tears Go By’, it’s an around-the-campfire tune with layered harmonies courtesy of Alyx Dennison from kyu. At times like this, frontman Richard Cartwright has a way of taking quite a straight song and opening up all sorts of colours from within.
Following the brilliance of My Volcano and its subsequent exposure, one might have worried that Richard in Your Mind would repeat themselves, issuing another giddy jigsaw of an album. SUN isn’t that at all. It’s a chill, cohesive set that’s about consolidating ideas rather than exploding them. Call it a grower, or even a slight disappointment, but it’s a sweet, unhurried ride that stands well on its own.
by Doug Wallen