It’s likely that longtime fans of the Starving Weirdos aren’t expecting the band to settle on a sound anytime soon. That’s not to say that the core members of the group — Brian Pyle and Merrick McKinlay (often including Steve Lazar, who plays on almost all the tracks on Land Lines) — haven’t sharpened their talents over the two dozen releases they’ve spouted out as the Weirdos, but that “settling” on anything in the first place never seemed like part of the duo’s prerogative.
In the spirit of keeping things interesting, the band have rarely shied from guest collaborators, of which Land Lines has a few. Aimee Hennessey’s unsettling vocals on the first and sixth tracks, “In Our Way” and “A Change in the Lexicon,” are the most striking additions to the slow, tone-heavy blur of psychedelia that marks the album. On the latter track, Hennessey clinically sings, “the actual object is replaced / don’t mention anything by name,” which is too vague to make real sense of, but makes me think of any of a number of hypothetical Orwellian scenarios of the future.
Fanciful interpretations aside, this sense of the music being linked to both the future and the present remains strong, but Land Lines also looks backward. The shimmering moments, which are never without an air of darkness, seem fit for astral colonies of the distant future, while in a broader sense, the album uses the ragas and eternal music of the past as stepping stones. It’s likely that Pyle and McKinlay have stumbled across a Taj Mahal Travelers’ album or two, as there is plenty of crossover in style , as well as a more occult quality, that transforms the act of playing music into an act of worship. As to which higher power is receiving their spectral prayers, I don’t think even they could answer that.