It’s one of rock’s perennial quests. From original daydreamers such as Jefferson Airplane through to contemporary outfits like Flaming Lips, countless groups have pursued the Holy Grail of combining the expansiveness of psychedelia with the discipline of killer pop music. On their third album, Preternaturals, the London duo of Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker square that demanding circle with quite some aplomb. From the wind chimes and canned laughter of the 28-second opener “Neil Megson Fanclub” (Neil Megson being the prosaic real-life moniker of Genesis P. Orridge), this is a vibrant, meticulous record alive with mischief, mystery and a deep, deep love of its forbears. The mellifluous leadoff single “All the Rays” sounds like Krautrock re-imagined by the Byrds via prime Depeche Mode, a headspinningly good idea. “Lightinsisters,” featuring a sweetly understated vocal by Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, is a throbbing electro-pulse that evokes midnight journeys down Mitteleuropa Autobahns and train tracks; the chaste, spectral vocals of “Feet of Clay” suggest a Gregorian choir. The lyrics veer from playful subversiveness to serene, bong-addled wisdom: “Why don’t you forget your name until you’ve learned a little more about yourself?” a blissed-out vocal murmurs through the shimmering opiate haze of “Secrets of the Earth.” The melodies float and sting throughout, and a profound joy beats at the heart of this gentle gem of an album.
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