This journalist has always been a champion of indie artists and bands who take risks, and use the era of DIY music making to create works that draw from multiple genres – as long as those genres, and the songs they create within them, are authentic to who they are and help tell their story. I’m fond of the phrase “joyful schizophrenia” to describe such works. There’s no doubt that Louisiana born, Austin based Ben Millburn, founder of the wildly eclectic musical collective Sunglass Moustache, is uniquely talented and passionate about the offbeat kitchen sink approach he takes on the album of that name, which begins with the sonically trippy, deliriously hypnotic (nicer phrase than “a bit repetitive”) “I Feel Something” – a showcase for his murky, dreamy vocals.
Yet from track to track, with pop, prog-rock, cosmic, mystical, psychedelic, Southern rock, funk, blues and all that jazz (well, maybe not real jazz) on the menu, it’s like chasing after an over-caffeinated red laser on the wall. It’s 11 oddball songs in search of a pathway to our hearts. Not to say it’s not sometimes quite fun. “Call Me King” is a mystical post-Beatles Lennonesque seduction.
The blistering rock laserium show in the chorus of “Isayuletit” will make you leap out of your comfort zone, where maybe “Mr. Taco” (psychedelic instrumental) is waiting with a steel pan liquefier to feed you lunch. Some tracks are a bit more mainstream, like one of the album’s most appealing dream-rockers, “The Beat” and the electronica soundscape driven “Especially.” The title track “Sunglass Moustache” is a misty swamp of a song, with tons of disconnected voices (some sung, some spoken) and mindbending effects – sort of like The White Album’s “Revolution No. 9” without “Number 9.”
Look, it’s great that we live in a time when artists like Millburn can freewheel, damn the torpedoes and do whatever the heck they want. And psychedelic rock has its fans, so Sunglass Moustache may very well be an indie masterpiece. I just think some of us may need to take something before we can fully appreciate it.