Sugar Candy Mountain’s new album, Mystic Hits, wants to give you a lesson on the last 40 years of American rock music; it’s just not the history that you expected. Instead, Sugar Candy Mountain describes an alternate sonic universe in which The Beatles are still playing in the ’80s, Brian Wilson is a master of pedal-driven distortion, and everything is produced by The Flaming Lips. This revisionist history brings funky psychedelic new life to classic heart-hitting sounds, and is a blast to listen to.
Frenetic opener “Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit” pits a jangly faux British verse against a ripping, fuzzy, psychedelic, guitar-led chorus and a neat time change; it sounds like a British version of The Doors, and a lot like current equivalent The Dandy Warhols. It flows euphorically into guitar-driven Brian Wilson beach freak out, “Soak Up The City,” providing a solid pop grounding for the album. The madcap journey continues, with Beck-drenched “I’m A Tiger,” bossa-influenced “Catus Dream” and even a trio of French pop-inspired tracks. Though the sound lacks total continuity, it makes up for this through its consistently effusive instrumentation and playful tone.
Mystic Hits shares a lot in common with contemporary “ascetic emulation” bands Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Apples In Stereo and Foxygen, including some of their issues; it’s hard to pay homage to so many different acts and still make fresh, honest music. At 13 tracks, the album runs a little long and some of the longer psychedelic instrumental tracks dissolve before making any strong impact, but it doesn’t feel especially detrimental. Guided by consistent playfulness and screwball production, Mystic Hits wasn’t made to be parsed apart; it was made to play out of car windows, fill up your headphones and warm your walk home. So give this album a chance, step inside and see how you feel. I think it’s worth it.