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The Proper Ornaments: Wooden Head

wooden head album review, the proper ornaments, wooden headThe Proper Ornaments — Wooden Head 

Release Date: July 8
Our Rating: 3/5
Spec Recs: “Gone,” “Ruby,” “You’ll See”
In one word: Neopsychedelic

The Proper Ornaments may have created the perfect album for long, summer days. All things considered, Wooden Head is an avid exploration of psychedelic music, featuring sounds both akin to the late work of the Beatles and today’s dream-pop artists.

Although the 14 songs clock in at an average of three minutes or less, we think the album could be consolidated a bit. However, if you’re looking for a simple road trip soundtrack, Wooden Head might be just what you need.  The songwriting isn’t complex, and the rolling melodies make the album easy on the ears. It maintains an approachable vibe, without being overly gloomy, or so psychedelic as to push sober listeners away.

The album takes off with “Gone,” a Weezer-like track featuring the electric guitar, subtle vocal harmonies and a general poppy vibe. It’s delightfully jam-worthy and approachable — a song that makes you want to put on some shades and kiss a stranger by the end of the night. The punchy “Sun” follows, and begins to clearly invoke psychedelic influences. It’s the transition to the pleasure of “Ruby” a song akin to the pop sounds of Blue Öyster Cult and the Zombies, featuring pretty guitar patterns and floating melodies.

Gradually, Proper Ornaments moves us into an exploration of more current sounds. The band doesn’t waste time hopping into “Don’t You Want To Know (What You’re Going To Be),” a song reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s first record, B.R.M.C. The track blends with the next song, “Magazine,” and suddenly we are confronted with more of a surf-pop vibe, which is incarnated fully a few tracks later with the electric guitar of “Always There.”

Meanwhile, one of the better tracks on the album is “What Am I To Do.” The guitar is folksy, and the lyrics are simple. If you have ever wondered what happened after the Beatles’ narrative of “Norwegian Wood,” this song seems to be the perfect explanation. The Proper Ornaments croon, “What am I to do/ I guess I’ll stay in bed another day.” It is inspired by legacy of the deep-soaked chill of the hippies of the past.

Wooden Head ends on an anthem-like note, with “You’ll See,” a cheerful-sounding harbinger of doom. On the surface, it sounds like something to blast when you’re drunk on a swing set, or perhaps the song that plays during the first kiss on an indie rom-com. But if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll realize that it’s actually about death, and seeing everyone you know before you in the afterlife — heavy stuff, coated in sugar.

Our conclusion: Wooden Head is an admirable sound blend of past and present. While it could use a little less length, it’s a nice tribute to the psychedelic ‘60s and the dream pop of more recent soundscapes. Give it a listen, and let us know what you think in the comments!

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