My first published review on NE:MM website. ‘Retweeted’ by the band themselves last night.
NE:MM link below.
Bazaar is Wampire’s second studio album to be released on the Polyvinyl Records label following 2013’s critically acclaimed Curiosity. Hailing from Portland, Oregan, core members Eric Phipps, Rocky Tinder and the expanded Wampire horde of Cole Browning, Owen Thompson and Thomas Hoganson have created an album that is both accessible and challenging enough to ensure fans of the band and newcomers alike will be listening again and again in the months to come.
Bazaar sounds darkly energetic in places and delicately psychedelic in others. The wonderful opening track The Amazing Heart Attack reminds me a little of Bauhaus with ambient gothic chiming bells and sinister vampiric (wampiric?) laughter haunting the opening few seconds before the distorted bass guitar grabs the listener by the scruff of the collar and riffs them kicking and screaming to the 3.30 mark.
Bad Attitude sounds like the love child of the B52’s and The Stooges and it aggressively picks up the pace where The Amazing Heart Attack left off. This is my favourite track on the album. It’s the one that made me move the most. I read Wampire played a lot of house parties in their early days; the grunginess of it really suits that stoner/slacker party image. This song will have every dance floor singing along and shaking their hips to the 60s style punk groove. They’ll be playing this song early in their live sets- before the audience gets too high. This song has a ton of attitude and exudes coolness. Disappointingly, with Wampire’s more rocking numbers Heart Attack and Bad Attitude feel occasionally slightly repetitive and sometimes fail to shift into any new territories during the middle eights. At least the guitarist gets the chance to show off his chops with a blistering solo in Bad Attitude.
The standout track has been chosen as the band’s first single: Wizard’s Staff. It immediately brings Pink Floyd to mind. There is a distinct retro sounding chilled psychedelic blues feel that soars and swells; it’s the kind of track that will convince your dad that Wampire are an awesome band, especially with the prog-rock style art work that accompanies the single. They were all partial to a bit of wizard back then weren’t they? Perhaps Sticking Out is the only other track featured on Bazaar that will have audiences cocking their knees and stamping their grungy glam rock heels as the album takes a tonal shift to the celestial.
Tracks such as Millennials and People of Earth are beautifully crafted songs with dreamy choral effects that tonally soar to different astral planes. However, this shift in style doesn’t jar because the ethereal vocal style, lavished with digitised effects, is fairly consistent across the album. Admittedly, at times, lyrics can be hard to understand because of this; however they are delivered deliberately languidly and so full of character that I didn’t mind: This is no pop record after all. The dreamy synths in the waltzing People of Earth evoke soft focus images of 80s science fiction and brings the album to a gentle close.
More experimental than their debut Curiosity, Bazaar is nevertheless equally as entertaining and always held my interest. Stick it in your ear pipes and smoke it up maaaaan.