Yet another band that seems keen to adopt an air of anonymity, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s main players all operate under pseudonyms. With names like Bullsmear, The Seven Fields Of Aphelion and Tobacco there’s clearly a side to BMSR that is not entirely serious.
There are, however, glimpses of an occasionally dark side to be found in the blurred mess of Tobacco’s vocals but generally the quite extraordinary wonky electro-pop the band pump out is apparently geared towards inducing a blissful state of euphoria. Unfortunately this can lead to some of the more subtle aspects of the album getting lost in the haze. The Healing Power Of Nothing for example is a quite gorgeous sunkissed electro jam, but hidden in there is Tobacco pouring his heart out. Lines like “the day I met you, I knew you were going to break me up” are easy to miss when they’re crooned over such a gorgeous musical wash. If there’s a problem with Cobra Juicy it is that it takes concerted effort to dig beneath the surface and get to the heart of the record. Not only are the lyrics obscured by Tobacco’s insistence of using a vocoder on every track but the band also seems intent on attempting to provide a musical opiate that knocks its audience into a grinning stupor. As an act of cunning misdirection, it’s a far more subtle ploy than adopting pseudonyms.
Cobra Juicy is not without its more full on moments however. It all starts out as a fired up party with Windshield Smasher, a track that seems quite content to force Paul Hardcastle to join Gary Glitter‘s gang. I Think I’m Evil meanwhile adopts a squelching bass fuzz to drive it along in a relentless march that sounds like a threatening invitation to dance.
Back on Hairspray Heart, a song that carries its unseemly intent in the stabbing guitars and Atari Space Invader squalls, it’s possible to make out the line “I can hypnotise you”, to which there’s no argument really. Black Moth Super Rainbow frequently manages to create suggestible states throughout the album utilising various techniques. Psychic Love Damage heads away from the direct synth-pop overload of the opening few tracks and indulges in gooey marshmallow guitar swoons. Not unlike Galaxie 500 at their most reclined and relaxed, BMSR continue their mission to sweep the listener into a multicoloured dreamworld and succeed. If there’s any psychic damage hidden in amongst the soft focus swirls, then it is almost impossible to detect, but maybe that is the point. The blissful Dreamsicle Bomb provides another example. Essentially the most spaced-out trippy tune that Air Never wrote there’s still menace lurking bellow the surface as Tobacco sneaks in his intention to “fuck up the neighbourhood”.
It would be easy to dismiss Cobra Juicy as an album that doesn’t seek to achieve much. It is true that Tobacco’s use of a vocoder can get a little overbearing and cause many of the songs to blur into an amorphous blob on occasions. There’s also the odd song that doesn’t quite sit right, such as We Burn which adopts a loping backbeat and vaguely blues orientated guitar riff resulting in a song that sounds like a shonky knock off from Beck‘s Mellow Gold period. Yet Cobra Juicy is an album that needs time to reveal itself. Like the band itself, it is a mysterious work that is difficult to get to the heart of, but with a little effort it is a rewarding experience. Of course, it’s also quite possible to disconnect and enjoy the warming glow of the album’s more ambient moments.