BY JENNIFER KELLY
Around 2010’s Coconut, the Archie Bronson Outfit stepped away from the gut-shocked post-punk that broke the band out of the pack with Derdang Derdang and began pursuing a more saturated, sprawling psychedelic sound. The initial foray didn’t work all that well. It was muddled more than meltingly expansive, and it had a trebly, unnerving gloss that suggested tone over substance. Now with Wild Crush, with new bass player Kristian Robinson (replacing Dorian Hobday), the London trio has hit its stride, churning meatier, heavier grooves without sinking into sonic muck.
That new bass player, by the way, takes a leading role in opener “Two Doves By the Lake,” a cut that sets the standard for this frenzied ride. Robinson, along with drummer/songwriter Sam Windett, hold down the foundation, while singer Arp Cleveland and saxophonist Duke Garwood channel this cut’s wilder spirit. It’s a nearly mesh of tight cohesion and free-wheeling excess, the kind of track that goes way, way out there, but doesn’t get lost.
“We Are Floating” is another highlight, grounding Cleveland’s wavery, anxious chant in a massive riff. Here’s the song that best recalls Derdang Derdang’s scrappy, staccato intoxications while embedding them in a larger, more enveloping sound.
Elsewhere, ABO flirts with Mercury Rev-ish fantasies (“Love to Pin You Down”) and Spaceman-esque drones and sprawls (“Lori from the Outer Reach”), and it works more or less. Still, the best tracks here match Derdang’s downed-wire punk frenetics with jackbooted 1970s arena psych. “Cluster Up and Hover” revs powerhouse guitar engines hard, but in control. Leave it to Cleveland’s warbly voice to lean way out, terrorized and exhilarated, as this rock and roll drag racer rounds the corner in ecstasy. I don’t think I’ll ever like another ABO record as much as I liked Derdang Derdang, but this one comes close, much closer than Coconut.
DOWNLOAD: “Two Doves by the Lake”, “We Are Floating”