Big Smile Revival - The Universal Veil (2021)
Coming at us from the Bristol region of the UK with this, their debut EP, the trio of Big Smile Revival balance retro psych rock leanings with some more modern rock rough 'n' tumble looseness.
Lead track “Sacred Mushroom” lays in a choice sample before sliding into a warm groove, which finds its way into bigger, faster, and rowdier forms as the group gets down with it. Staying instrumental, they keep the focus on the tones, rhythms, and interplay, and turn out a high-charged piece of cool exploration as a result. As the move into “Divided Kind”, a bit of a twist on pub rock rhythms sneaks its way in, spiked with enough grungy attitude to turn it on its ear. This song also brings in the vocals, which merge with the grumbly fuzz to great effect, dipping into and rising out of it as the harmony keeps moving. A tasty guitar solo gives it that much more kick, and keeps the energy up as the EP moves to its second half.
“Amhran Siog (Fairy Song)” gives a big nod to the group's regional roots, and while there is some starry-eyed folksiness to the acoustic guitar lead-in, and accompanying lightness of the vocals, BSR tap back into the straight-out rock before they lose momentum. That play with contrasts fuels the rest of the song, with the band taking alternating scoops from each, and the clearer sections put a bigger spotlight on the band's lyrical facility. Closing things out, “The Helm” indulges in some tonal lushness, riding the listener in on echoing guitar chords, with the same effect giving the vocals a spacy vibe. There's a wistful quality to the playing on this last track, pushing the band's emotional position out from the mass of the EP's rock-out approach. It's a nice show of their range, and the slowed tempo is given enough change-up in the breaks to keep it from turning into a closing lullaby. All together, great work from this group on their first outing, and enough quality across the songs to have me eagerly awaiting their next release.
For Fans Of; Fossil, Frozen Planet....1969, The Heavy Co., Pale Grey Lore, Vanilla Trainwreck