The last few years in new music have been primarily preoccupied with two easily distinguishable concepts: an unhealthy obsession with summer, and its singular sonic adjective: fuzzed-out. While this auditory relationship for many acts, including Los Angeles’ own summer spinsters Best Coast, have proven successful, it unfortunately fails to recognize one of the most creatively viable moments of the summer months- the serene early a.m. urban atmosphere. Luckily, local Portland indie-rock effort Foam Castles’ newest album “Molly’s Jungle,” at its most decisive moments, serves as the perfect companion piece for this overlooked moment in time.
For the majority of the record, “Molly’s Jungle” sounds like a comfortable nod to 1990’s indie-rock: “Garage From Sling Blade” could sit comfortably next to any song from Pavement’s “Wowee Zowee;” and “Take It Home” quickly draws comparison to house/brit-rock mavens Primal Scream’s album “Screamadelica” with its continuous use of keyboard and percussive loops.
But “Molly’s Jungle” doesn’t seem to craft its own original sonic portrait until the final stages of the album, with a sparse soundscape that contests to the additive that less often ends up being more. “Down River” sounds like a primal, lo-fi spiral into the psyche of a madman at closing time, ultimately arriving at what one would think Tom Waits sitting in on The Velvet Underground as they recorded “White Light/White Heat” could possibly sound like. “Myrtle Street” while less Velvet and more Iggy Pop, continues the journey well into the early a.m. hours, with the sense of an artistic vision seeming to be missing from the 90’s throwback of the initial tracks of “Molly’s Jungle.”
More than anything, “Molly’s Jungle” sounds like an album and artist divided. The 90’s retrospection leaves the listener with a sense of déjà-vu several times over; while the final tracks create a desire for more lo-fi, early a.m. atmospheres. Would it have been better suited as two individual EP releases? It might depend on what sort of sound Foam Castle is hoping to arrive at, but “Molly’s Jungle” sounds too precisely divided to serve as their signature album.