New Music: Walrus’ ‘Family Hangover’

After releasing a handful of videos and an EP over the last year, Halifax’s Walrus have finally debuted their full LP, ‘Family Hangover’. It’s a dreamy mix of The Vines and Jefferson Airplane, like Joy Division had been sent back a decade earlier to reinvent the sixties by masquerading as The Byrds.

From the opening licks of ‘Later Days’ there’s no question where the album is headed. It’s deep into psychedelia. The comparisons for an alternate version of history are nearly endless here; from Thom Yorke and Neil Young producing offspring the shore up a heavily reverbed Buffalo Springfield with paranoid crooning to Adam Mowery fronting a temporally displaced New Order.

‘In Timely Fashion’ follows, the hypnotic jangly psychedelic pop single that was released as a DIY go-pro video back in April. ‘Family Hangover’ the title track digs in on the crooning and the synths like Rufus Wainwright pouring his heart out over Wendy Carlos, the transgender godmother of electronic music and genius behind the Clockwork Orange soundtrack.

‘So Far Gone’ offers both the album’s shortest and coincidentally most traditional track. It manages to tie together what sounds like a lo-fi acoustic cigar box laden with speed modulation. How else would we even recognize anything from this far down the rabbit hole without at least a veneer of effects?  Guitars that sound like guitars? No thank you, you must be thinking of some other album.

From there the album shifts through the more dancy and poppy ‘Step Outside’ and ‘Regular Face’, then throws us for an out of body experience with ‘Free Again’ before delving into the ‘Tell Me’, a Jefferson Airplane baseline meeting the sunshine pop of The Mamas & The Papas.

We round out the ‘Family Hangover’ with ‘Glam’ and ‘What Goes On…’ which are two of the more modern sounding tracks on the album. At least as modern sounding as a melancholic Lou Reed if Lou Reed sounded twice as cheery in his melancholy and used more than two notes.

Walrus are standing on the shoulder of giants but it’s not a bad place to be. ‘Family Hangover’ is a creative step forward for modern Canadian psychedelic pop while rooting itself in the classics. At least we know they have good taste.