Flower of the Cosmos (Silver Sleeve Records)
The references come flooding in when first listening to this new album from Brooklyn rockers The Giraffes. Queens of the Stone Age, with their stoner-fused, swagger-heavy alt-rock, are the clearest influence. But there’s also the manic energy of the Jon Spencer Blues Band/Murder City Devils, the confrontational snot of Fear and of course some classic Sabbath, Who, Zeppelin thrown in.
Yep, they have their influences. But the more you listen to Flower of the Cosmos, the more the sound of the Giraffes comes to the surface. They’ve managed to achieve the apparently impossible in this day and age — record an album that is heavy on the cosmic, psychedelic vibes, yet isn’t interminably dull. They’re not scared of a jam, but the melodies come first. The lyrics are going to appeal to space rock aficionados, but they also don’t reek of self-indulgent nonsense poetry. Not since Monster Magnet’s ’98 masterpiece Powertrip has the balance been found so effectively.
“Recording this album was the single most rewarding and challenging experience I’ve ever had in the studio,” guitarist Damien Price explains in an accompanying statement. “Conceived as love songs and played with an unbridled ferocity in reaction to the perpetual state of crisis America has placed itself in for the last three years.”
Meanwhile, the band says that the album title, “is a bitter acknowledgment that the modern world in all of its absurdity, vanity, sham, exploitation, and cruelty stands as the culmination of a 4 billion year uninterrupted chain of life on earth. We are the fruit of all that has come to pass before us, the pinnacle of creation, the acme of reality.”
Yeah, cool. After reading all that, it’s a relief that the songs are so great. The opening “Can’t Do This in Your Head” sets the tone — an anthemic, driving, Alice In Chains-like slab of metallic stoner rock with a sharp hook. “Like Hate” follows suit, and “Fill Up Glass” (which closes side A on the vinyl) is a slower, through no less enjoyable, romp.
That Alice In Chains vibe raises its head again on side B opener “Bubble Scum,” and they just keep going. Like that Seattle group, The Giraffes achieve a gorgeous mesh of harmonies as multiple voices mesh with the instruments.
It’s effective and moving. That’s The Giraffes.