Sweden’s Psych-folk stalwarts Goat come barrelling back with a peach of a new album from a band who normally reside firmly in the “face-melting” circle of the Psychedelic genre’s Venn diagram. With their fifth studio offering Medicine, the mask-wearing Scandic shamans have mellowed and refined their sound into something contemporary, more restrained and arguably more accessible.
The result of this introspective shift is the music equivalent of – if you’ll allow a moment of pure conjecture – tripping on DMT.
Opening with the backwards Gregorian chants of Impermanence & Death – hello Jocelyn Pook’s Masked Ball! – and ending with Tripping In the Graveyard – which is all flute and no aggro – first impressions might suggest that Goat have regressed into some hippy commune. But by the time recent single I Became The Unemployment Office begins its scuzzy, organ-led groove, you’ll notice a resilience and focus to these songs that break new ground in the Swedes’ universe. It’s fresh, indie-laced brain balm.
TSOD is like an up to date re-telling of Blue Jay Way, employing distorted vocals, phased out sitar and a heavy lean on languid drones, and Vakna invokes the kind of swirling acoustic stomp Anton Newcombe would no doubt have as his favourite ringtone. Make no mistake, this isn’t about chucking flowers around the garden or flipping peace signs.
It seems the recent collaboration on the soundtrack of Shane Meadow’s witchcraft drama Gallows Pole has drawn out some as-yet-untapped primal magic in Goat’s songwriting, and it’s all the better for it. You’ll Be Alright glides along on a bassline so louche that it might have been penned while hallucinating about the ghost of Jason King and Join The Resistance – a fist pumping cover of fellow Swedish group Gås’ single from last year – sounds like a call to arms, with a guitar riff so dangerous that Molotov would be minded to weaponise it.
Goat have thrown off their previous guise and somehow re-energised their sound by embracing the middle ground, free-forming into places they previously seemed unable to inhabit. Medicine is the sign of a band ready to make the leap from esoteric obscurity into the wide open here and now.
Get it in your veins at your first opportunity.