Flamingods’ new album Levitation is their first for three years, and came about as a result of all four members being in the same continent for the first time in four years. They were previously able to create music together by firing audio files back and forth between far-flung corners of the globe, like a sonic collage. Levitation, as a result, feels more like an extended jam session than their previous oeuvres. Drenched in heavy layers of guitars and fuzzy bass, Levitation comes across more psych than exotica, thus drawing more parallels to the exquisite disco- and funk-laden releases coming out of the Middle East and South Asia in the 1970s.
Lazy reviewers will be tempted to draw a hastily scribbled line between tracks like ‘Moonshine on Water’ or the titular track ‘Levitation’ and George Harrison’s export of the sitar from India to rainy Blighty, but this would only be scratching the surface of Flamingods’ psych sensibilities. Since their debut release, Sun, Flamingods have mutated with each new album, shaking it up to ensure that their listeners are always stimulated, always left guessing at what will come next. This reflects well on ‘Olympia’, where the swung time signature and rolling arpeggiated synth hook give way to well-placed pauses and pulsing drum rhythms.
Levitation is an album of subtle contrasts. The two lead singles, ‘Marigold’ and ‘Paradise Drive’, are about as accessible and pop-leaning as it gets, giving way very quickly to the swampier psych of ‘Peaches’. The vocal line on ‘Club Coco’ flits through several modes, switching before you can fix the last note in your head. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel as far as genre conventions are concerned, but sometimes reinvention isn’t necessary; a tight, well-done version of a well-trodden path is sometimes all you need.
Flamingods’ most recent offering might not pull any revolutionary punches, but it is highly listenable. Several influences are drawn cleverly together, melding in one big melting pot that reflects psych back to the West in one palatable package. It certainly is a job well done.