RIYL: Timber Timbre, Nick Cave, Franz Ferdinand
North Country Psychic Girls' primary motif is that of the teenage misfit chafing against the constraints of everyday normalcy. The runaways, obsessives and yes, straight-up psychics of the album's title attempt to outrun inner demons while dodging actual spirits and ghosts. The album is full of poetic images and dark narratives: a young couple finds love in an urban dystopia; an old poet longs for a life that eluded him; an ancient clan rivalry is brought to an end by unspeakable acts of violence; a girl in a far-north town gets hypnotized by voices emerging from a deep abyss.
Though officially Pang Attack's first full-length album, the band considers it something of a departure from the abstract and droney shoegaze of their first 3 EPs: Dreamer's Drug (2011), Phantom Forest (2012) and Sleepy Fell Down (2015). Gone are the deliberately sprawling compositions, the studied abstraction, and singer Alex Hackett's plaintive lilt. In their place comes a mature Pop sensibility, lush helpings of strings, trumpet and saxophone, and a newfound crooner vocal style which, Hackett says, "emerged from a love of Morrissey, Nick Cave and old-school guys like Lee Hazlewood and Scott Walker". He adds: "It really was a fun, collaborative record to make, and a bit of an impulsive stylistic change for us - bringing in elements of motown and old-school crooner music, and marrying it to psych and Stooges-style fuzz rock. We wanted to challenge ourselves and shake things up."
The album was recorded by Jace Lasek at Montreal's Breakglass Studios, and features guest appearances from the likes of Joe Yarmush (Suuns), Mike Felber (SoCalled), Erik Hove (sax player for Stars and many others) and the Kate Maloney String Quartet (John Jacob Magistery).