The first solo album from Doug Tuttle, formerly guitarist in New Hampshire outfit MMOSS, takes his former band’s psych-rock sound and runs with it. So, your opinion on Tuttle will rather depend on whether things like mellotrons, flutes and backwards effects give you the shivers or turn your stomach. Or on your taste for endless, endless guitar solos.
For much of Tuttle’s solo album sounds like it was literally beamed in from the late ’60s. It’s a hazy, lazy, dreamy album that recalls fellow psych-revivalists like Tame Impala and Foxygen, expertly performed by the young musician, even if the whiff of self-indulgence never seems that far from the door. It’s impressive to listen to, but will undoubtedly leave as many people cold as it will thrill.
Lead single Turn This Love is a good example – it starts off hushed and fragile, with Tuttle’s whispery vocals to the core. Then, over the course of its six minute running length, it gradually becomes a showpiece for Tuttle’s guitar skills as almost half the song is given over to a very lengthy solo. It’s played perfectly, bringing to mind such legendary names as Neil Young (a heavy Tuttle influence), but it does all seem a bit drawn out.
When Tuttle does tighten things up though, it works beautifully. I Will Leave is one of the stand-out tracks, a beautiful Teenage Fanclub-esque drawling ballad, while Forget The Days is beautifully blissed out and relaxed. Perhaps the most effective moment is Lasting Away, a glitchy, somewhat spooky instrumental featuring some incendiary guitar work from Tuttle.
The trouble is that it’s difficult to shake the impression that this has all been heard before. It’s technically very accomplished, and Tuttle is obviously a massive talent. Yet take a listen to Disraeli Gears, or Love‘s Forever Changes, and Tuttle seems more like a young pretender. Obviously, it’s unfair to compare such a embryonic talent to giants of the genre, but where bands like Tame Impala or Jagwar Ma push the envelope of psych, all too often it feels like Tuttle is simply tipping his hat at it.
That may seem harsh, especially when he’s obviously capable of making such a tremendous noise – Where your Love…Is Where You Plant It manages to cram an impossibly epic sound into just two and a half minutes – and it’s true that Tuttle doesn’t have the resources to produce the kind of head-spinning jams that his former band often dipped into. Besides, the album’s closing two tracks, the aforementioned I Will Leave and Better Days (The Wool’s Grown Lighter), hint at a cleaner, more polished direction that suits Tuttle greatly.
Some may find Tuttle’s hushed vocals a bit too insubstantial to last over the course of a whole album, and others may be turned off by all the psych trimmings. Yet fans of MMOSS will find much to satiate any need for a new fix and there’s enough evidence on this debut to suggest that Tuttle could well start to emulate those he holds in thrall, given time.