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Wooden Shjips - V (Album Review)

Monday, 04 June 2018 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Jason Powers

According to Wooden Shjips frontman Ripley Johnson, ‘V’ is an album made with summer in mind. He sought out a happy, light-filled place in response to disasters both natural and man-made: last year’s California wildfires, the election of Donald Trump.

It’s a long awaited collection, too, as Johnson’s focus has largely been on Moon Duo since Wooden Shjips last surfaced with 2013’s ‘Back To Land’. With its name signifying its spot as the band’s fifth album, as well as alluding to the peace sign, it just about accomplishes its aim, leaving the listener with a feeling of hazy evenings spent outside as the sun goes down, ice cold beer in one hand and something to smoke in the other.

Eclipse opens things and it’s an instant keeper. Its pulsing bassline, up-tempo, persistent drum beat and bursts of spacey guitar cast a spell across six minutes, its bewitching nature broken only by the surprising inclusion of a saxophone. It sounds like something from an early The The track until it explodes into prominence towards the song’s chaotic climax.

The dreamy, slow drag of In The Fall floats along in a soothing manner, while a driving rhythm section comes to the fore during Golden Flower, briefly overpowering Johnson’s trademark guitar, which takes a back seat.

Red Line, meanwhile, picks up the pace with warped guitars and it’s perhaps the only track that depicts the hotter part of a typical summer’s day. Elsewhere, the vibes are very much geared towards the lazy afternoon or early evening relaxation period. Already Gone is shorter than a standard Shjips cut, sitting at a little over four minutes, but it’s none the worse for its truncation. Its arpeggiated synths are another surprise treat before a fine guitar solo, while closer Ride On is another one for sunset.

The fantastic guitar noodling at the song's conclusion is especially pleasing, but Staring at the Sun is nevertheless the album’s high point. Undulating between E and A in a similar way to the title track of ‘Back to Land’, its seven minutes weave through a meandering path gorgeously. It almost feels like a psychedelic version of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth.

While not quite a challenger to their very best work, Wooden Shjips have forged yet another fine album. With the prolific Johnson at the helm of both the Shjips and Moon Duo, there’s undoubtedly many more to come, and the world is a happier place through his efforts.

Wooden Shjips Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon September 10 2018 - LONDON Heaven
Tue September 11 2018 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Wed September 12 2018 - GLASGOW Saint Luke's
Thu September 13 2018 - GATESHEAD Sage
Fri September 14 2018 - LIVERPOOL Invisible Wind Factory
Sat September 15 2018 - MANCHESTER Gorilla
Sun September 16 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute2 Birmingham
Mon September 17 2018 - BELFAST Empire Music Hall
Tue September 18 2018 - DUBLIN Whelans

Click here to compare & buy Wooden Shjips Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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