Stephen McBean is a rock n’ roll alchemist. With his work in both Black Mountain and Pink Mountaintops, the beardy Canadian succeeds in mining the genre’s entire history and transmuting it into a unique, heady elixir. The latter of these projects – the playful, lascivious yang to the yin of the former’s heads-down, foot-stomping rifforama – is essentially a solo project, although a quick check of the band’s Wikipedia page reveals that the number of past members is roughly that of a small nation.
For this, his fourth PM album, McBean has called upon the services of former Delta 72 man, Gregg Foreman, as well as Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis and Annie Hardy of Giant Drag, but as always it’s McBean’s warm, twangy timbre, and his knack for effortlessly amalgamating a whole host of influences – lyrically and musically – from both sides of the Atlantic that stand out.
First listen might have you racking your brain as to who these influences are (rightly or wrongly, David Bowie, the Stone Roses, and the Doors were just three of the names that popped into my head) but by the time the album’s finished, you’ll simply want to play it again and revel in its twisted beauty. Joe Cardamone of punk-rock agitators The Icarus Line handles production duties, and in doing so does a stellar job of allowing the nuances of each instrument to be felt without diminishing the overall impact of the record’s raw power. Of particularly worthy mention are the hook-laden ‘The Second Summer of Love’, and the quite frankly shockingly filthy ‘North Hollywood Microwaves’, which features the lines “Guys are no fun, so I’m now fucking bears”. Superbly subversive stuff.