The immediate appeal of The Black Angels is a psych rock familiarity. The dark, hazy traditions are all there, mined from the likes of 13th Floor Elevators, The Raveonettes or The Velvet Underground. But Indigo Meadow bends its way around pure replication.
What makes The Black Angels more interesting, what makes the music stick to your ribs, is that as they dig up the past, they're twisting and distorting it into something new. In the glitchy echo effects on “Holland” or the metal riffs of “Twisted Light,” it's clear the Austin-based band isn't content to ride on the successes of their influences. It's hard to ignore when the organs start making your brain yell “The Animals!” but Alex Mass' vocals are twisted and turned in enough unexpected directions to distract. They never really let it fly off into a directionless trip either, thanks to seriously sturdy drumming from Stephanie Bailey.
Through all the haze and murk, lyrics still stand out. Maybe the most pointed example is the one-liner chorus of “Holland”: “I'd rather die than be with you tonight.” The knife twists in a little deeper with each repetition. Or there's the indecisive simplicity of “Always, Maybe,” floating condescendingly over some of the more laid-back stuff on the record.
The final song, “Black Isn't Black,” is an excellent surprise, more bluesy hard rock than psych. The first half rides on a quietly plucked bass line and Mass' lovesick vocals, then it kicks into an ultra-sludgy wall of guitar and organ, like we're all headed for certain doom. Then again, not every song breaks far enough out of the familiar. “I Hear Colors (Chromaesthesia)” is a very typical psych rock jam, between the subject and that quickly alternating quiet/soft pattern.
But pull it all together and Indigo Meadow is an impressive sampling of what The Black Angels can do. Psych rock today is often the territory of copycats and this band knows you need to be different to ever hope to be better.