Castlemania is not a bedtime record. You can deduce that much from the monster movie cover art, or by digging through any of Thee Oh Sees' eight previous full-lengths. In the past, John Dwyer's outfit catered mainly to reverb-chasing runaways living in and around Haight-Ashbury, but they and their extended Bay Area family (which includes the Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall and Sic Alps) have been garnering greater attention over the course of the past year. On Castlemania, Thee Oh Sees play to their expanded fan base with clearer vocals and pause-causing narratives, replacing the deafening jangle that defined previous releases.
At first, Castlemania seems to be a sonic utopia, lush with tambourines, brightly-colored flutes and bounding hooks. But Dwyer's campy vocals and dark sense of humor soon encroaches. While this collection might lack any real bar-fight riffs (though "Corrupted Coffin" and "A Wall, A Century" come close), sarcastic proclamations like, "It doesn’t feel good to be dead in the 21st century" offset any illusions of concession.