Whether you realize it or not, we are just about two decades in with guitarist John Dwyer and his indispensable collective Thee Oh Sees. Also noteworthy is that the band is well into the double digits of their full length recordings that unfailingly showcase a high wire act of psych-drenched power chords and trademark falsetto. After switching Thee Oh Sees’ long term lineup in 2014, Dwyer is on his second release with his new crew and it shows, both in familiarity and scope. Where last year’s Multilator Defeated At Last has moments of uncertain experiments and noodling, A Weird Exits is focused in its exploratory pursuits and swollen with genuine purpose.
As refreshing and necessary as a thunderstorm in the desert, A Weird Exits opens the heavens with the fiery stomp of “Dead Man’s Gun”. Where melodious hooks often shared equal space with muscular riffs in the past, Dwyer is wholly comfortable crushing that ideal with the gleeful stomp of a road-worn effects pedal. “Ticklish Warrior” continues down that apocalyptic path, wafting with the smell of brimstone as the vitality of Thee Oh Sees’ dual-percussion attack is on full demonstration. It is quickly apparent that these opening album tracks are as satisfying as anything Dwyer and company has recorded since the 2013 LP Floating Coffin.
As they are wont to do, Thee Oh Sees are never content to solely coast on the backs of their crowd-pleasing burners. The instrumental investigation in “Jammed Entrance” lights the entrance into the prog-rock arena, replete with sputtering guitar angles and Kraut-organ throb. “Crawl Out From The Fall Out” is gorgeous sprawl, meshing space-rock moodiness with the cavernous yawn of a well-placed string arrangement. Dwyer’s whispers “But they will see what they want to see/ No sun, no moon, no stars, no sky at all” unfurls like a Spacemen 3 jam at their most potent. Closer “The Axis” leaves the story of A Weird Exits open-ended, going full “Whiter Shade of Pale” before obliterating the entirety of the mix. The atmosphere is elegiac but burning with the curiosity of where Thee Oh Sees could take us next.
A new LP from Thee Oh Sees is always worthy of maximum volume and accolades. That wailing Oh Sees’ sound is as much of a rubber stamp guarantee in rock authenticity and roar as anything else in rock music today. Digging deeper into A Weird Exits reveals Dwyer’s personal investment and growth, as you can witness him moving beyond barmy wordplay and guitar theatrics throughout all eight tracks. If we were ever concerned that things may become lost or cliche, this album is our assurance that we are neck-deep in halcyon days of Thee Oh Sees. Rejoice.