Album Review

Back To Land

Back To Land

by Wooden Shjips

Thrill Jockey
7.5 / 10
25th November 2013

Reviewed by Danielle Street

It seems strange to settle Wooden Shjips in the wheelhouse of psychedelic rock when their languid sound is more accessible than the genre suggests. The dreamy fourth album from the West Coasters thrives on swirling melodies that would easily find a home in most record collections.

The foursome started in 2003 as a minimalist rock group with a DIY ethos and has slowly sailed towards a more polished sound. Previous effort West (2011) saw the band in a professional studio for the first time and they have built on those foundations, but the pivotal elements of Wooden Shjips endure. Strands of whaling organ weave through the album's eight lengthy tracks, pulling the whole record together. The keys tangle with crisp drums, crunchy rhythms and solid guitar lines in a way that each instrument still has space to breathe. And it all echoes the influence of The Velvet Underground, particularly tracks like 'These Shadows', where the seductive vocals of Ripley Johnson ripple and murmur along.

The whole package is a striking album the boasts a curious blend of free spirit and tight musicianship. It's an album that should anchor the original fans, while getting some new ones on board.

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