In listening to Thee Oh Sees’ 2010 album, Warm Slime, it’s clear that Jon Dwyer and Co. have -- after much experimentation -- landed on a fully realized sound. Sure, they’ve always boasted a recognizable aesthetic (fuzz! reverb!), but Warm Slime feels mature, comfortable and consistent in a way that the band’s profusion of past releases have not. It’s a contained mess, a set of songs that is at once ecstatically tangential and nicely reined in.
According to the liner notes, Warm Slime was “recorded live at 60 6th street in san fransisco (sic) in one day, one week after the gay pride parade 2009 on a tascam 388.” You wouldn’t know it by listening – these songs ring of actual, nuanced production. But, think about it: Here are four musicians who’ve played together for some time now, who are comfortable with each other, with their sound, and who, presumably, had a real goal in mind. What you’re hearing on Warm Slime is an accomplished and cohesive live band. This is a rarity, and something to behold.
That cohesiveness is apparent from the opening title track, a 13-minute epic replete with crunchy, galloping verses, hooks (yes, this is, in many ways, a pop record), soft-spoken interludes, manic build-ups, and the irresistible, double warbling of Dwyer and Brigid Dawson. Thee Oh Sees’ sound lends itself to nodding out: lyrics are few, verses and riffs are oft-repeated. Even the ensuing six songs – all of which run considerably less than 13 minutes – have a certain hypnotic quality, especially “Flash Bats,” but accomplish it with a succinct catchiness. “I Was Denied” features a sticky melody, and “Everything Went Black,” a stoned march of a song, is another clear winner.
The album’s shortcoming is its breakneck pace. Thee Oh Sees conjure sweet, sticky fuzz, and there’s very few spaces on Warm Slime to take a breath, or think about what you’ve heard. Then again, it’s this very saturation that makes Warm Slime such a natural high.