Album Review: Cobra Juicy

Tom Fec (aka Tobacco) scratched the tracks for a new Black Moth Super Rainbow record to be called Psychic Love Damage. In multiple interviews he’s confessed that the album sounded too much like what was expected, so he ended up challenging himself with a one-off attempt at a pop record, a feat he promised he would never attempt again. The end result, Cobra Juicy, may just be the best album of 2012. Fec has emptied the chambers of his synth arsenal on the latest BMSR release, and I haven’t heard this many hooks on a record that challenged its listeners since Pretty Hate Machine. The album finds a perfect balance between Tobacco’s harsh, dirty algo ego and the sunbeam-drenched psychedelics of Black Moth. Fec revealed that a recent remix project he worked extensively on was rejected, and it’s spawned many of the ideas that led to tracks on Cobra Juicy. With all this failure and rejection, how does Fec arrive at us analyzing one of my favorite albums of all-time?

These songs are realized well beyond what BMSR’s previous top-heavy records have offered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Dandelion Gum and Eating Us, but Cobra Juicy is Fec’s magnum opus. There are enough synth hooks on this record to fill the track list of an 80s greatest hits album. Fec’s dark, emotional, and lovesick lyrics are brilliantly disguised in layers of melody. “I can’t be without you | Fucked up when I’m living without you | Fucked up when I’m thinking about you | All the colors turn to grey” reveals Fec’s love epiphany, humanity, or a creative way to repress his inner turmoil.

There is absolutely no filler here, although the album is rather short at 39 minutes. All eleven glorious tracks stand out, and no song sounds like another. First single “Windshield Smasher” is an ideal opener initially aligned to the harsh palette of a Tobacco record. But Fec immediately finds balance between his multiple personalities. A screeching synth repeats over a heavenly looping soundscape, creating a mindfucking juxtaposition of noise. Fec carries this balance for the length of the record. “Hairspray Heart” features nine repeating electric guitar notes over layers of distorted synths. “Like a fucking diamond, falling from my fucking eye” is the chorus that repeats until the track transitions perfectly into one of BMSR’s tamest tracks to date. “Psychic Love Damage,” named after Fec’s trashed first attempt at the new record is a revelation. The songwriting is mature, the lyrics are heavy and philosophical, and the offbeat percussion that ends the track is an album highlight.

I can’t help but hear the influences that Beck has had on the record. Fec breaks out an acoustic guitar during several divine moments of Cobra Juicy. The opening and middle of “We Burn,” the final minute of “The Healing Power of Nothing,” and the calm before the storm during “Blurring My Day” feature Odelay-esque acoustic compliments to BMSR’s addicting backbeats and layers of synth. Closing track “Spraypaint” sounds like it would fit perfectly on The Flaming Lip’s Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, as the bass line sounds eerily similar to “Ego Tripping at The Gates of Hell.” In the end, I’ll assume it’s a homage to another inspiration for Fec’s one and only attempt at pop perfection. Fec raised over $100k from his rabid fanbase via Kickstarter to fund the album production, citing a lack of interest from record labels. Seriously.

Check out the first single and video for the album opener, “Windshield Smasher,” featuring a demented BMSR initiation.

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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