MaidaVale – Madness Is Too Pure (2018) REVIEW

This Swedish retrofied heavy psych four-piece were originally such a close study of female lead, bluesy hard psych circa 1969 that ‘Tales of a Wicked West’ felt a bit me-too in it’s inherent lack of originality. The wicked undercurrent of funk and blues were under-par for the course when compared to the similar approach of Jess and the Ancient Ones and the loud stoner rock production felt amateurish. A few years of tossing and turning later MaidaVale are back with a beautifully analog sounding production that is spacious and echoing in it’s ethereal 70’s dread. The guitar performances are no longer so rooted in the bluesy stoner rock of their debut and instead find a middle ground between the semi-modernization of Blues Pills on ‘Bliss’ and the thoughtful psych moments of early-70’s Budgie (‘Squawk’, for example). It is a beautifully recorded and catchy as all get-out set of retro psych rock songs.

The tone and pace of ‘Madness Is Too Pure” has this relaxed, almost desert psych feeling to it and largely avoids stoner rock-isms because of their shift towards greater restraint in terms of guitars. Tracks like “Dark Clouds” and “Oh Hysteria!” thrive because the bassist and drummer aren’t forced beneath hyperactive rhythm guitars, and the lead guitar hysterics and psych-meandering are likewise elevated. My favorite moments on the album feature the more personal and occasionally political performances of vocalist Matilda Roth. Her inflections and general tonal shift accompanies band’s increasingly authentic gravitas towards mid-70’s sound perfectly.

If you enjoy bands like Demon Head that take their 70’s occult rock into analog, retro ‘lo-fi’ territory but also enjoy the cuddly psych rock of The Black Angels I think ‘Madness Is Too Pure” is a heavily refined big sister to their achievements. The only experimentation that doesn’t really work here, “Trance”, sort of farts up the end of the record spin. If the band intended to go techno-disco rock, it should have been a riff on ABBA and not whatever that was. Hey, all was forgiven by the time “Another Dimension” rolled in to end the album; it’s swirling psychedelic feedback and restful bassline ended on just the right note. It took me a while to appreciate this album, probably because my frame of reference shifts towards doom metal when I hear a production sound like this, but it’s authentic re-purposed 70’s sound and worthwhile lyrics ended up winning me over. If deciding to buy, you have to hear “Gold Mind”, “Dark Clouds” and opener “Deadlock” with it’s excellent lead guitar work.

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Artist MaidaVale
Type Album
Released March 23, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow MaidaVale on Facebook
Genres
Psychedelic Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Psych

They are mine to keep. 3.5/5.0

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