Putrifiers II is the third or fourth LP in the last two years from Thee Oh Sees, depending upon whether or not you’d like to include their single collection. They’re hard-working, clearly, but what impresses me is that the tiniest details alter the sound from record to record, though Castlemania is a bit of an outlier. Again, the group’s giving you a psychedelic garage rock run with a bit of punk rock energy kicking down the doors.
As soon as you turn on Purtifiers II you better turn it up loud because “Wax Face” is best listened to at high volumes. After opening with a playful twinkling guitar line, the band jumps on the distortion pedals and bangs out a stomping number. Interestingly, the vocals almost seem an afterthought here, coming off as an extra instrument rather than a pertinent piece of storytelling. But, that’s the opposite case with “Hang A Picture,” the following tune, which definitely has Thee Oh Sees playing to their strengths as tight knit unit; this track has that same pscch stomp feel, but it’s as if the group’s rocking this one out together around a campfire.
I know it’s hard to see this band getting much better than they already are, but with tracks like “Flood’s New Light,” it’s clear that they’re not resting on their laurels, even if you can see the lineage between the various records. The opening bass line completely won me over, and then the horn jumped in, on came the vocals, creating one of the catchiest tunes I think I’ve heard from Thee Oh Sees. On the chorus you’ll find a little monosyllabic lyric, continuously improving the delectable flavor apparent on this tune. Speaking of that chorus, it sort of indicates a slight R&B sensation that also seems to occasionally pop its head up here. “Will We Be Scared” might not come across as classic Motown, but the guitar work, the airy vocals and the way the bass walks through the tune really gives you a nice groove.
Ultimately, the differentiation on Putrifiers II is what makes it a winning collection of tunes. The album’s title track (“Putrifers II”) begins with this slow-handed light pop element, but as the guitars and drums get going, there’s a layer of depth that provides you with a darker sensation. However, the restraint is where the band seems to really switch things up…I kept expecting them to fully blast off, but they don’t go that route. There’s an increased pace, but it’s not as in your face as one would expect, if you’re familiar with the previous works of the group. Then you get the contrast with the folk-ish album closer, “Wicked Park.” It feels like something the Kinks might have put together early on in their career–it’s definitely a step away from the band’s garage-psych blend, and the record is better off for it.
If you’re a fan of Thee Oh Sees, you can pretty throw all your expectations out the window when you pick up your copy of Putrifiers II. Yes, it does have hints of the band’s storied sound, but at the same time they never seem to stay in one place for too long. That’s what makes them so dynamic, both live and on record, which will only continue to grow their fame. I’m continuously impressed with the group’s work, and once you get your hands on this, you will be too.