Italian psych-rock veterans Julie’s Haircut have zoned in on making incredible, catchy, satisfying and challenging records for 20 years.
One of their two (so far) major releases of 2019 is In the Silence Electric which is as total a summation of a band hitting a blistering career peak as can be ascribed. Pulling influences from Spaceman 3, Can, and the Fall, they avoid falling into the trap of dwelling at length at either poles of the emotional spectrum. Rather they move effortlessly between bliss-laden trails and grinding paranoid depths, all the while propelled by grooves so epic, they’ll flap your flares for hours on end.
What marks this record above all other Julie’s Haircut albums or many other contemporary psych releases is the quality of the songwriting and production restraint. There is a tendency in psych to either milk an idea to death or bury it within a tonne of flourish, but Julie’s Haircut draw from decades of experience to maintain the sweet spot of stoned groove and captivating musical evolution on damn near every track. The one exception is “In Return” which is an exploration of 70s synth-driven evocative avant-garde and as such is beautifully decadent, wondrously unnecessary, and borders on sublime. Purposely cut from a different cloth than the rest of the album, this third-quarter psychic freak out downs the mood before the tribal jazz drums summon “Pharaoh’s Dream” and we’re back in pound land.
It is hard to fault this record on any front. As an album it works from start to finish and pulls you back for numerous rewinds. It has a ‘dance with abandon’ single in “Until the Lights Go Out” that is so ripe for remixes it might relaunch the disco-noise of electroclash. Furthermore the technical playing is so tasteful that despite having a pretty standard sonic palette (guitar, bass, drums, organ, synth, sax, and voice) the listener is carried away wholesale by the music. One is never drawn into considering specific facets such as ‘oh nice bit of guitar there’, ‘whoa synthy-synth time’ or ‘wow that drumming is pretty flashy’, despite there being plenty of ‘oh yeah’ moments. The balance of sonic elements emerges fully formed, seamless and boundless.
In a wider context we might ask whether they are in fact charting any new ground in psyche music. They probably aren’t but reflecting on it as you click to play the album for the thirtieth time it occurs that Julie’s Haircut might have released a weird key that fits a locked door at a time when we need reminding that such open opportunities exist. This album is an absolute delight. It’s one to own on vinyl, play for friends, play at parties, and just wear out. Come on in.
Photos by Erik Messori (2019)
25 Sep / FR / Saint Etienne / Disorder Club
26 Sep / BE / Gent / Café Charlatan
27 Sep / BE / Paris / Supersonic
28 Sep / UK / Bristol / The Lanes
29 Sep / UK / Newcastle / The Cumberland Arms
01 Oct / UK / Glasgow / Broadcast
02 Oct / UK / Chester / The Live Rooms
03 Oct / UK / Leicester / Soundhouse
04 Oct / UK / Manchester / The Peer Hat
05 Oct / UK / London / Shacklewell Arms
11 Oct / IT / Carpi/ Kalinka
12 Oct / IT / Firenze / Glue
18 Oct / IT / Torino / Spazio 211
19 Oct / IT / Monza / Tutto il Nostro Sangue @ Scuotivento
21 Nov / IT / Cagliari / Karel Music Expo
23 Nov / IT / Livorno / The Cage
30 Nov / IT / Roma / Angelo Mai
10 Jan / IT / Milano / Ohibò
11 Jan / IT / Bologna / Locomotiv
Artwork Sleeve Copyright: Annegret Soltau