It is now apparent that Fab Moretti of The Strokes is intent upon taking over the music scene this week, as this is the second release of the week with the drummer laying down the percussion tracks. This time, however, he has joined up with Devendra Banhart of neo-hippy lore in order to create a jazzed out pop folk album under the name Megapuss.
Unfortunately for us, Devendra Banhart is cool with indecent exposure, thus we get this horrific cover art, but perhaps this is set to draw in the female audience. Needless to say, one might have gone beyond the standard of taste here. Of course, the inclusion of such a picture furthers the sexual undertones all over the album, not to mention the band’s current moniker.
Expectations were that this would be one of the most creative pop albums of the year, as Banhart is known for his abstract approaches. This time he takes a more standard approach, including various other musicians such as Moretti and Greg Rosgrove of Priestbird. Fab’s precision percussion definitely allows a steadying pace to the oddly poppy songs present on the album.
It’s difficult to describe the ebbs and flows of this album, which can be driven by the album’s title, Surfing. Listening to the album takes you up and down, atop the wave and crashing to the ocean floor. The opener “Crop Circle Jerk 94” is a swinging number, while the albums title track is a more subdued jazzier number. You also have to include Devandra’s dedication to the psychedelic aspect of musical musings, as there is definitely a presence here.
In fact, it would be really easy to classify this entire album under the Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Songs like “Theme from Hollywood” or “Older Lives” have a tendency to live decades in the past, although the lyrical content is definitely less experimental, the music still leans toward an out-of-body listening experience.
One of the huge detractors on this album is the presence of background vocals. It’s difficult for Banhart to separate himself from the hordes of followers and friends he has, thus he chooses to include them on his album, which doesn’t always play to his benefit here. If you stripped those elements away you would find that there is a lot of substance.
All in all you find that this is definitely a nice step out of the traditional folk approach for Banhart, and yet another interesting step for Fab Moretti. Even if it is just for kicks, it’s refreshing to see these fine fellows step outside themselves for just a little while.